Gov. Perry, Cowboy Conservative

What this Republican presidential field lacks so far is a cowboy.

And by “cowboy” I mean a conservative Republican from the Southwest. For the last half century, it has been the land the Republican presidential candidates. All four Republican presidents since Dwight Eisenhower (with the unique exception of Gerald Ford) have come from California and Texas. Throw in the two Arizona candidates (Goldwater and McCain) and you’ve got a very significant regional tilt.

But so far, no Republican presidential candidate has been in a position to harness the money and support of that region. Yes, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson hails from that region, but he’s not a big enough player. But if Texas Gov. Rick Perry enters the race he looks primed to bring in plenty of cash from the Lone Star state and also tap into a wealthy pool of regional donors who remain undecided.

What’s more, of course, Perry’s got the cowboy conservative image to go along with his regional connections. Yes, that brings comparisons to George W. Bush (not necessarily a liability in a Republican primary). But it also puts him in the company of Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater, both of whom were plenty comfortable in a cowboy hat and boots. The western motif nicely compliments the conservative political ideology in vogue right now, a combination of the freedom-loving lone cowboy and the tough acting sheriff bent on cleaning up Washington.

For all these reasons, I’d say Perry’s got a better shot at the nomination than most of the candidates currently in the race. If he can tap the wealth of the region and play up the cowboy identity to get his name recognition up, I expect he’ll catapult into the front ranks of the not-Romney crowd.

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