Texas leaders reaching beyond state lines with political messages


by MARK WIGGINS / KVUE News and photojournalist ROBERT MCMURREY


Posted on February 6, 2013 at 6:56 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 6 at 7:22 PM

AUSTIN -- In his State of the State address, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) heaped praise upon the state's business-friendly climate.

"Texans have succeeded to the tune of more than half a million private sector jobs added over the last two years alone," Perry emphasized in his January speech. "If you want to be a CEO someday, Texas is the right place to start."

Perry now is taking his message beyond the State Capitol with a $26,000 radio advertising campaign targeting California businesses.

"Building a business is tough, but I hear building a business in California is next to impossible," Perry says in one 30-second spot. "I have a message for California businesses: Come check out Texas."

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA) quickly dismissed the ad, noting the media buy was hardly enough to mount a serious statewide advertising campaign.

"It's not a burp, it's barely a fart," Brown told reporters. At a separate press conference, he pointed to the significant amount of Texans who have made the reverse trip. "A lot of these Texans that come here, they don't go back. Who would want to spend their summers in 110 degree heat inside some kind of a fossil-fueled air conditioner?"

Just last week, newly elected U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) sent a letter chastising Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel over reports he urged banks to cease doing business with gun manufacturers. In the letter distributed to media, Cruz invited Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger & Co. to relocate their business to Texas. Before that, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott (R-TX) announced an Internet ad campaign inviting gun-owning New Yorkers to similarly consider moving south.

"The ads have gotten tremendous response, and it typically is along two lines," Abbott told KVUE in January. "One, people are proud of the fact that Texas is more independent, more prosperous and a better state to live in. The other response I get, however, is some concern raised by our fellow Texans about the prospect that we might be opening up our borders to a bunch of liberal New Yorkers, and that's the last thing they want."

"I think it's pretty clear that both Governor Perry and General Abbott are both planning for the future," said Texas Politics Project Director and University of Texas professor James R. Henson.

Henson suggests while out-of-state ads could certainly serve to raise political profiles and increase national visibility, they could have any equally legitimate a practical aim. When it comes to determining the primary strategy behind Perry's California campaign, it could be moot.

"Effective politics always serve a number of purposes, and helping his name recognition is certainly one," explained Henson. "From a policy framework, it's perfectly consistent with what the governor has been doing, which has been trying to poach business and investment and economic activity from other states with California being one of his prime targets."

Of course Texas tradition always plays a role, and the liberal-leaning have long been a favorite target of conservatives in the Lone Star State.

"No Texas politician has ever suffered from using California or New York as a negative foil," noted Henson.