“While they may not agree on every issue every time, a vast majority have supported him,” Miner said, adding that tea party groups “share the governor’s philosophy.”
Part of Perry’s challenge in Texas is the length of his tenure as governor. That alone is a strike against him for many tea party activists who are distrustful of government.
“More and more, I think tea parties are just skeptical of anyone,” said Felicia Cravens, a board member of the Houston Tea Party Society.
Cravens credited Perry for supporting the tea party movement when it began two years ago. The governor hosted a rally at the state Capitol and has since attended numerous tea party events, including a recent one held by the Houston-based King Street Patriots. It is among the largest tea party groups in the state and has worked with the governor.
Cravens hasn’t decided whether she will back Perry in the Republican primary, but she said he has her vote against President Barack Obama.
Tea partyers were split on whether to support Perry in his gubernatorial re-election bid last year. But plenty of them backed him, propelling him to victory.
Melissa Clouthier, a conservative blogger who frequently speaks to tea party groups, said she upset many of those groups by endorsing Perry.
“I think he is competent, experienced and conservative. ... For a politician, he’s really great,” she said. “It’s one thing to campaign very ideologically. It’s another to get policy done.”
Although fellow Texans may criticize Perry, Clouthier said other tea party activists are likely to support his views on states’ rights and low taxes.
“I think the tea parties, they are practical, too,” she said. “They want somebody who can win, and they want somebody who can govern.”
Following the speeches from elected officials, the crowd stands at long tables as they dig into BBQ, brunswick stew, cadillac rice at the Law Enforcement Cookout at Wayne Dasher's pond house in Glennville, Ga., on Thursday, April 17, 2014.