A well-written piece on Rick Perry from Bloomburg.
His allure was easy to see. Perry swept into the restaurant with a phalanx of Texas Rangers, security men, drivers, and aides—16 in all—dressed identically in dark suits and white shirts, many wearing earpieces. He looked great. Perry has the dark, slightly exaggerated good looks of the villain in a daytime soap opera and puts more effort into personal grooming than most politicians would dare. He wore a fine charcoal suit with pick-stitched lapels, gold Star of Texas cuff links, and a cornflower-blue silk tie that he tucked into his shirt before he ate. His cowboy boots were polished to a high sheen. He oozed self-confidence. It was easy to imagine him convincing some beleaguered CEO, probably in an overregulated hellhole like California, that he’d be richer, happier, and much better off were he to relocate his company to Texas. This is one of Perry’s favorite things to do, and a big part of his success story.
Perry’s electricity initiative met the same fate for similar reasons. In 2006 the state’s largest electric utility, TXU Energy, announced plans to build 11 coal-fired power plants. This would have helped meet an obvious need. Texas is unique in having an electricity grid separate from the rest of the country’s, built that way in the 1930s to avoid federal oversight. But this makes it difficult to import power when there are shortages. Rolling blackouts are a continual problem.
The source of the new power—coal—guaranteed an outcry. Rather than go out and try to build support, Perry bypassed the public and the legislature and issued an executive order accelerating the permits, thereby intensifying the opposition. He argued, correctly, that the state needed to generate more power. But he either didn’t anticipate or didn’t care who would object—not only environmentalists but also whole swaths of suburban Republicans. Perry’s order was challenged in court and found unconstitutional. A private equity group later bought TXU and scrapped most of the plans.