With a field of eight Republican presidential challengers in Iowa this week, Texas Governor Rick Perry (reported to soon declare his candidacy) claims he can reach across the partisan divide and win over California's Independents and even a few Democrats.
"Now I'm enough of a realist to know that California is a pretty high hurdle for a Republican. But I'm going to go out there and I'm going to have a story that'll a lot of people-Independents and maybe even some Democrats-look at me and go, 'That's the type of individual that we can get behind. You know to make America proud of itself again.'"
Perry made his comments in an interview with Mark Halperin of Time Magazine, adding that America is an exceptional country that the world needs to see as economically and militarily strong. In asking whether the Governor would aspire to campaign in California to win the general election, Halperin referenced Reagan who competed in the now reliably Democratic coastal states of California and New Jersey.
While California is classified as a reliably Democratic state in Halperin's piece, what's not noted in the question to the Governor is that the momentum of both traditional parties in the Golden State has slowed to a fairly significant degree. Independents are a noticeably growing demographic in California's political landscape, which is what makes Gov. Perry's stated goal of reaching Independents and Democrats a timely proposition. Furthermore, Republican candidates generally rule out California's voters when campaigning for a major office.
As the economy remains a dominant issue in the minds of many voters, the Los Angeles Times has noted Governor Perry's fostering of a rivalry with California with his claim to have lured companies away from the state only to relocate to Texas. When it comes to employment in the Lone Star State, the numbers are certainly on his side when compared to California. Based on figures as recent as June 2011, unemployment stands at 11.8% in California, while in Texas, unemployment is 8.2%.
Gov. Rick Perry's recognition of the importance of reaching out to Independents is admirable, but winning them over won't come easy. Fellow Texan and presidential candidate Ron Paul is hot on the Governor's tail to cast him in quite the opposite light, blasting him in Iowa before any formal declaration of candidacy.
"He will just further dilute the establishment vote. You know he's part of the status quo. I don't know of a view that he has that is different than the previous administrations and his record as governor does not show him as a standout as actually being a conservative. He actually was the chairman for Al Gore at one time not too many years ago," Paul said in a townhall style meeting.
At a time when much of the country is very much anti-establishment, Rick Perry has his work cut out for him to cast himself in the Independent mold.