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Texas Gov. Rick Perry gave a signal Monday to Iowa voters that he supports Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R) in the state’s U.S. Senate race, according to the Austin American Statesman.
Dewhurst was campaigning with Perry in Iowa when Perry mentioned the Senate, which “David soon will be a Member of, Lord willing.”
As president, Perry discussed repealing health care reform and said, “You can be the co-sponsor in the Senate, David.”
How powerful Perry’s support is at this point in the cycle in Texas is an open question. Coming off Perry’s clobbering of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) in the 2010 gubernatorial race and into the first months of his presidential campaign, both Dewhurst and former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz (R) eagerly aligned themselves with him.
Dewhurst tied himself to Perry in a Web video announcing his Senate candidacy in July, just before Perry officially became a candidate for president.
Cruz was also early and effusive in “proudly and enthusiastically” supporting Perry in August. Cruz reiterated his praise of Perry in an early October interview with Roll Call.
But later in the month, Cruz distanced himself from Perry on immigration.
Former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert has yet to endorse in the presidential contest. The other notable candidate in the state’s GOP Senate race is former ESPN analyst Craig James, who has only been in the mix for a few weeks.
Since Perry has come under national exposure, there is some discussion in Texas political circles that the Perry brand is tarnished. One nonaligned Republican strategist brought up “Perry’s oops” to Roll Call and said, “In my opinion, most Texans are embarrassed that happened.”
A Republican in Austin said Perry’s support helps Dewhurst. “I think overall it helps, because it will convince some of the die-hard conservative activists who might be on the fence to support Perry.”
Dewhurst is part of a Texas legion campaigning for Perry in Iowa leading up to tonight’s Iowa caucuses. A Texas political insider noted Perry’s extensive use of state appointments as a draw for this support. “Why? Because the governor will remember who wasn’t there if and when he exits the presidential campaign.”
Roll Call rates this race as Safe Republican.