Perry, Abbott tell residents of other states that Texas is the place to be

Posted Thursday, Feb. 07, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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They've been at war with Washington for years.

Now Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott have set their sights on other places as well.

The Republican leaders -- both of whom aspire to higher office -- are launching broadsides at leaders in states from California to New York, encouraging residents and businesses there to flee to the Lone Star State.

Democrats and residents of those states say Perry and Abbott are only embarrassing themselves and Texas with their antics. But some political observers say the governor has typically benefited at home from attacks on outsiders.

Plus, they say, all's fair in politics, and other states aren't above bashing Texas.

"If you don't think other states are doing it, too, reaching out to other states, you're wrong," said Bill Miller, an Austin-based political consultant. "There's an enormous amount of dissatisfaction with taxes there, and states with lower tax rates are a big draw.

"Political leaders in California don't care about Texas, and Texans don't care about them," he said. "This is about business ... and it's brilliant."

Some wonder whether the Texas leaders' moves will create a backlash against a state that's already the butt of occasional jokes on late-night talk shows.

But that won't stop Perry.

On the heels of releasing ads in California, trying to lure residents to Texas, Perry is heading there in person.

"While much of the California and national media commentary has been negative, the message that Rick Perry's Texas is 'wide open for business' has been received loud and clear by the three groups Perry cares most about: Texas voters, Republicans nationwide, and business owners in California and elsewhere," said Mark P. Jones, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston.

California

This week, Perry poked at California, announcing that he's running one week's worth of radio ads there, encouraging businesses to move to the "best state" -- Texas.

Perry said it's tough to develop a business anywhere and even harder in California. He touted Texas' "low taxes, sensible regulations and fair legal system" as reasons why California businesses should head this way.

"I have a message for California businesses: Come check out Texas," he said in the $24,000 radio ad buy, paid for by TexasOne, a public-private partnership that markets Texas throughout the world as a prime business destination.

California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, dismissed Perry's radio ads.

"It's not a serious story, guys," Brown told reporters.

"It's not a burp. It's barely a fart."

But the ads come as California has faced economic difficulties and some residents are leaving.

"It is likely a 'poke in the eye' to what is perceived as a liberal state with economic difficulties while Texas and other states are doing relatively well," said Allan Saxe, an associate political science professor at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Perry's encroachment into California -- which continues next week when he meets with business leaders in the high-tech, biotechnology, financial, insurance and film industries -- sparked the Sacramento Bee to write the editorial "Pity Rick Perry; his big state has big needs."

The paper cited a "high dropout rate, lack of health insurance coverage and economic disparities" in saying that Texas isn't exactly the nirvana that Perry might paint it to be.

The editorial said Perry's ad campaign is more of a "cry for help."

"Perry can't create jobs, he can only steal them from other states," according to the editorial.

"His campaign for the Republican presidential nomination was a joke. His beloved Dallas Cowboys haven't been in the Super Bowl since 1996."

Perry will be in California from Sunday through Wednesday, a trip also paid for by TexasOne.

"The ads are likely to be more effective in bolstering Abbott and Perry's standing as solid conservatives than they are in actually convincing California businesses and especially New York gun owners to move to Texas," Jones said.

New York

As recently as last month, Abbott urged gun owners in New York to leave their state -- and restrictive gun laws -- and move to Texas.

"Texans always like to talk about how great our state is," Abbott told reporters after the ads aired.

"And what Gov. Cuomo in New York did is to just give us another opportunity to distinguish Texas from New York and explain to the entire country why Texas is better than New York."

Abbott used campaign dollars to buy ads on news websites in New York City after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed broad gun control legislation.

Other than a few concerns about more New Yorkers moving to Texas, the response he received was mostly positive.

Abbott's ads included one that read: "WANTED: Law abiding New York gun owners seeking lower taxes and greater opportunities."

One click on the ad took readers to a Facebook page about the Second Amendment that bragged about Texas' virtues -- including that the state has no income tax, so "you'll be able to keep more of what you earn and use that extra money to buy more ammo."

One ad read: "Here in Texas, you will have the liberty and the opportunity to achieve your dreams. On top of that, we have no income tax, yet still manage to have a multi-billion dollar budget surplus.

"We have right to work laws and a reasonable regulatory environment. Texas has created more than 275,000 jobs in the last year alone! And we'll fight like hell to protect your rights."

Jones said, "In these ads, Abbott and Perry are once again contrasting distinct aspects of the Texas model -- strong support for Second Amendment rights and a business-friendly environment -- with the inferior conditions found in the decidedly more liberal states of New York and California."

Anna M. Tinsley, 817-390-7610

Twitter: @annatinsley

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