Texas Gov­er­nor Rick Perry is appar­ently con­sid­er­ing a run for the 2012 Repub­li­can Pres­i­den­tial nomination.

The spec­u­la­tion regard­ing the Perry cam­paign was fueled, in large part, by the implo­sion of the Newt Gin­grich cam­paign on June 9. The advis­ers who left sud­denly all had close ties to Gov. Perry. At this writ­ing, he is in sec­ond place on Intrade with 16% prob­a­bil­ity of gar­ner­ing the nom­i­na­tion, accord­ing to traders. On the graph, you can see the “bump” in Perry’s num­bers on June 10: both the price of a Perry con­tract (line) and the trad­ing vol­ume (green bars) spiked after the defec­tions from Gingrich’s campaign.

Nate Sil­ver has writ­ten favor­able blog posts assess­ing Perry’s chances on May 18, June 9, June 14, (and, just in case you missed his point, June 15). Silver’s assess­ment is that Perry is a strong con­tender for the nom­i­na­tion, and has put Perry in his “top tier” of can­di­dates with a 1-​​in-​​8 chance of win­ning the nomination.

Who is Rick Perry?

James Richard “Rick” Perry was born in Paint Creek, Texas, about 50 miles north of Abi­lene in Haskell County. He is described as a “fifth gen­er­a­tion” Texan. (So am I, by the way. I sus­pect a lot of fam­i­lies trace their Texas roots to the post-​​Civil War period, as mine do.) He is a 1972 grad­u­ate of Texas A&M Uni­ver­sity, and like any Aggie, has exten­sive polit­i­cal skills and ties which accrue from that asso­ci­a­tion, ties as strong as those between the Ivy League schools and the Fed­eral gov­ern­ment. He was a US Air Force pilot.

He mar­ried his child­hood sweet­heart, Anita Thig­pen, in 1982. They have two chil­dren, Grif­fin (b. 1983) and Syd­ney (b. 1986). Grif­fin mar­ried in 2009 but there are no reported grand­chil­dren yet.

His first elected office was Haskell County Com­mis­sioner in 1983. He ran as a Demo­c­rat. (“I never met a Repub­li­can until I was in the Air Force,” the Hous­ton Chron­i­cle quotes Perry as saying.)

Perry served in the Texas House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from 1985 to 1991. In 1990 he was elected to the post of Agri­cul­ture Com­mis­sioner and became George W. Bush’s Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor in 1998. Upon Bush’s elec­tion to the White House and sub­se­quent res­ig­na­tion, Perry was sworn in as Texas Gov­er­nor on Decem­ber 21, 2000. He was first elected Gov­er­nor in 2002 and is now serv­ing his third four-​​year term.

In the 2010 elec­tion, he soundly defeated Sen. Kay Bai­ley Hutchi­son and Debra Med­ina in the Repub­li­can pri­mary, 51−30−18, and in the gen­eral defeated pop­u­lar for­mer Hous­ton Mayor Bill White 55–42.

Perry made waves in 2009 when, address­ing a Tea Party rally, he placed the issue of Texas seces­sion out in the open.

There’s a lot of dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios. We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no rea­son to dis­solve it. But if Wash­ing­ton con­tin­ues to thumb their nose at the Amer­i­can peo­ple, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty inde­pen­dent lot to boot.

Texas was an inde­pen­dent Repub­lic from 1836 until its admis­sion to the United States in 1845. Many Tex­ans believe, and are taught in required Texas his­tory classes, that Texas has the right under the annex­a­tion agree­ment of 1845 to secede from the Union if it so desires. His­to­ri­ans and Con­sti­tu­tional schol­ars have dis­puted this, but it is still a per­va­sive belief held by a sig­nif­i­cant minor­ity of Tex­ans. One pre­sumes that those Tex­ans attend­ing the rally were solidly within the 31% who believe this to be the case, as reports say they cried “Secede!” dur­ing Perry’s speech.

Rick Perry would seem to be a “slam-​​dunk” for the right-​​wing base, being a South­erner and a charm­ing, out­spo­ken con­ser­v­a­tive with that unique Texas swag­ger. But as you can see from these Free Repub­lic com­ments, reac­tion to him among hard con­ser­v­a­tives is mixed at best. The “Freep­ers,” while impressed by Sarah Palin’s endorse­ment of Perry, are sus­pi­cious of the can­di­date him­self. They smell more than a whiff of RINO in his for­mer asso­ci­a­tion with the Texas Demo­c­ra­tic Party, his cozy ties to big busi­ness, and his for­mer sus­pect views on abortion.

Gov. Perry strongly sup­ported Texas House Bill 15, which insti­tuted a “sono­gram require­ment” and two-​​day wait­ing period for most women seek­ing abor­tions. He is opposed to research on human stem cells.

Under­ly­ing many of these neg­a­tive com­ments at Free Repub­lic is the wild­card that nobody men­tions: the can­di­dacy of Michele Bach­mann. She is the rea­son that Rick Perry is con­sid­er­ing his chances so cau­tiously, and is also a grow­ing fear within the Repub­li­can estab­lish­ment right now. They are very much afraid that Bachmann’s early momen­tum could gal­va­nize her far-​​right sup­port­ers and make them so fer­vent that when she even­tu­ally drops out (as she likely will) then the can­di­dates who remain will have a PUMA-​​type prob­lem with the dis­ap­pointed Tea Party base. This would not be so dam­ag­ing to many of the other can­di­dates like Rom­ney or Paw­lenty, who will not be get­ting the strong sup­port of that por­tion of the elec­torate any­how. But it would be a fatal devel­op­ment for Rick Perry — he must assess Bachmann’s cur­rent prospects very carefully.

Another unusual twist in the Perry for Pres­i­dent story was revealed on Wednes­day June 29: Pub­lic Pol­icy Polling (which has a Demo­c­ra­tic affil­i­a­tion but is one of the more accu­rate poll­sters in Nate Silver’s rat­ings) found that Tex­ans pre­ferred Pres­i­dent Obama to Gov­er­nor Perry in a head-​​to-​​head matchup, 47–45%. The same poll found that 59% of Tex­ans are opposed to a Perry run, vs. 33% in favor of such a move.

George Will has writ­ten favor­ably about Perry and his “10th Amend­ment Con­ser­vatism”. Is Perry the right can­di­date for the 2012 Repub­li­can Pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion? First he has to decide to run.