AUSTIN, Texas — Even as he announced he wasn’t running for governor again, Rick Perry implored Texans not to rock the political boat too much in choosing a successor.
Although he stopped short of endorsing his Republican heir apparent, state Attorney General Greg Abbott, there was little debate that’s who Perry was referring to when he repeated a famous quote from legendary University of Texas football coach Darrell Royal.
“You gotta dance with the one that brung ya,” Perry quipped, just before announcing that he wouldn’t seek to continue in the office.
Abbott is popular with both grassroots tea party activists and mainstream conservatives in the GOP-dominated state. He already has raised a whopping $18 million in campaign funds, even without officially announcing his candidacy.
Perry said for months that he and Abbott had an agreement not to run against each other for governor — a pact Abbott never confirmed. Still, Mark P. Jones, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston, said Abbott did a masterful job biding his time so he could carry on Perry’s conservative mantle without making it look like he pushed him aside.