AUSTIN (AP) — Gov. Rick Perry has already hit California and Illinois trying to lure businesses to Texas — and now he's taking aim at New York and Connecticut, where not everyone will be thrilled to see him, he boasted Monday.
The Republican has been heading to traditionally Democratic-leaning states, trying to convince employers to move to his state because of what he calls its pro-business and relaxed regulatory climate, as well as particularly strict limits on lawsuits.
Perry's five-day trip officially begins Sunday — the last day he can veto bills approved during the legislative session that ended May 27. He plans to meet with executives from the gun, pharmaceutical and financial industries.
The visit is being bolstered by a $1 million ad buy for two 30-second television spots that began running statewide Monday in New York and Connecticut, and are set to air for a week on national cable stations, including CNBC, Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, ESPN and the Discovery Channel.
Paid for by a public-private Texas promotional company, the ads feature Dallas Cowboy great Emmitt Smith, filmmaker Robert Rodriguez, and business owners singing Texas' praises, and they end with Perry saying: "Texas is calling. Your opportunity awaits."
Asked Monday how he expects the people to react in New York and Connecticut, Perry suggested he's bracing for a political fight.
"If you're a businessman or woman in New York who is tired of high taxes and high regulation and a litigious climate, I'm going to think that that's going to be a very positive response," Perry said. "If you're the legislators or the governor or the mayor who are the reason for those regulations, or taxes, or lawsuits, than I'm suspecting that there's probably going to be a little pushback."
In February, Perry flew to California to meet with executives and recruit jobs in San Francisco, the Silicon Valley, Los Angeles and Orange County. That trip coincided with $24,000 worth of radio time for an ad in which Perry scoffed, "I hear building a business in California is next to impossible."
That state's Democratic governor, Jerry Brown, called the visit a simple publicity stunt — but the small ad campaign got a great deal of media attention.
Two months later, Perry again made headlines when he traveled to Chicago while an $80,000 broadcast and print ad campaign urged that state's companies to "Get out while there's still time." Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, dismissed Perry as a "big talker."
Perry, whose 2011 presidential campaign flamed out amid a series of public gaffes, most notably when he couldn't recall the third of three federal agencies he promised to shutter if elected, hasn't said if he plans to seek a fourth full term as governor. He also hasn't ruled out another bid for the White House, and political observers have noted that his business-poaching trips have given him a chance to meet with top GOP donors far from home.
Texas created nearly half of all the nation's new jobs in the two years following the official end of the national recession in June 2009, and the Texas Workforce Commission said Monday that 226,000 jobs were generated statewide just in the past 12 months.
Critics note that Texas has failed to spend enough on public education or roads to keep up with its booming population, and that its reservoirs and other water infrastructure is ill-equipped for the punishing droughts that frequently plague much of the state. But Perry said the Legislature just approved a new state budget that includes billions in additional funding for schools and infrastructure, enough "to meet that challenge," he contends.
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