In a sign that the indictment of Texas Gov. Rick Perry for abuse of office and coercion may not be having the political effects some have hoped for, Sen. Ted Cruz, the Republican junior senator from Texas, has taken to his Facebook page to express support for the governor. Cruz is considered a possible rival to Perry for the Republican nomination for president in 2016. However differences are being set aside, at least for the time being, to rally around Perry.
“Unfortunately, there has been a sad history of the Travis County District Attorney's Office engaging in politically-motivated prosecutions, and this latest indictment of the governor is extremely questionable. Rick Perry is a friend, he's a man of integrity – I am proud to stand with Rick Perry. The Texas Constitution gives the governor the power to veto legislation, and a criminal indictment predicated on the exercise of his constitutional authority is, on its face, highly suspect.”
Cruz, an honors graduate of Harvard Law School, served as Texas Solicitor General for a time, having been appointed to that post by current Texas Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott. Cruz also taught Supreme Court litigation at the University of Texas School of Law in Austin, a subject he is somewhat familiar with as he argued a number of cases before that court as solicitor general. He currently serves in the United States Senate and is said to harbor higher political ambitions.
Cruz’s endorsement of Perry suggests that, at least in the short term, Perry’s indictment has had the effect of raising his popularity among conservatives. Whether this will last if the case drags on, a certain hope by Democratic partisans, remains unclear. Also unclear is how many other Republican office holders, especially potential presidential candidates, will also publicly rally to Perry’s side.
The suspicion, raised by some, is that the indictment is little more than political payback for Perry’s opposition to Obama administration policies, especially where it concerns the southern border. The idea is to taint Perry and to tie him up in court to dissuade him from running for president in 2016. If Cruz’s endorsement is any indication, the former goal may be backfiring. The potential for something happening similar to the backlash surrounding the impeachment of President Clinton is very real. It could even impact the 2014 elections if it becomes a political issue.