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The Highs And Lows Of Governor Rick Perry

Gov. Rick Perry has made many media appearances in recent months as he considers a 2016 presidential run.

Since 2000, Rick Perry has been governor of Texas. But next month he’s leaving office.

This week, the Texas Tribune is exploring Perry’s legacy in a 10-part series. Reeve Hamilton is a Tribune reporter -- he talked about the governor with KERA’s Eric Aasen.

Interview Highlights: Reeve Hamilton on Rick Perry ...

... on Perry's influence: "Rick Perry is one of the most influential people in Texas history. The thing Perry will be most remembered for is his longevity. He is the longest-serving governor in the history of the state and set a record that is unlikely to be matched. Because of that, he transformed the office into a much more powerful one than it was ever envisioned to be."

... on Perry's role in shaping the state economy: "The state has a record that any governor would like to have. We really stand out nationally, if you look at the number of jobs added and the number of people added in the last 15 years. But, obviously, we also have resources that other states don’t have in terms of all the oil and all the shale. That would have existed whether Perry was governor or not. He definitely didn’t get in the way of job creation. … Perry probably faces criticism about many things going forward. … Texas has the highest number of uninsured people. The keys to our financial success also come with potential environmental side effects – we produce more greenhouse gas emissions than any other state." 

... on Perry's recent indictment (regarding his 2013 veto of funds for a special investigative unit in the Travis County district attorney’s office) and whether that will be sort of a cloud hovering over him: "When he as indicted he was actually able to raise money on it from his supporters. So it hasn’t hurt him so far. But he’s the first governor of Texas, the sitting governor of Texas, to be indicted in nearly a century. It’s a distinction for better or worse. It could drag out for a while."

... on Perry's most controversial actions: "The biggest controversies that people are likely to list are his mandate that girls are to be vaccinated against HPV. He pushed for the Trans Texas corridor, which would be a major highway cutting through the state. But, ultimately, lots of these proposals were never implemented. He’s overseen major tort reform, and restrictions on women’s access to abortion facilities. Many of these things could be seen as controversial or as great accomplishments depending on who you talk to."  

... on Perry's presidential ambitions: "Perry is definitely looking into running. He’s bringing in politically-connected people from Iowa and other key primary states. It will be interesting to see how people respond to him going into another election after his 2012 effort went so disastrously. He’s trying to cast a different figure on the campaign trail. Instead of being this renegade Texan, he’s a more studious, mild-mannered Perry than the one that ran before."

Learn more

Explore The Perry Legacy, a 10-part series from The Texas Tribune.

Reeve Hamilton on Twitter

Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.