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September 13, 2011

Congressional Endorsements Not Focus for Perry

By Shira Toeplitz – Roll Call Staff

Sept. 13, 2011, 7:17 p.m.

Republican presidential candidates Rick Perry (left) and Mitt Romney prepare to shake hands with other candidates at the end of a presidential debate sponsored by CNN and the Tea Party Express at the Florida state fairgrounds in Tampa on Monday.

Members of Congress shouldn’t wait by the phone for Texas Gov. Rick Perry to call.

The surging GOP presidential contender makes no secret of his disdain for Washington, D.C., and so far, his campaign’s efforts to get chummy with Members are minimal.

Perry’s nascent Congressional outreach operation is spontaneous and decentralized, according to interviews with Texas operatives, Capitol Hill aides and K Street supporters. They say Congressional endorsements are not Perry’s priority — at least not yet — except for Members from early presidential primary states.

Perry’s backers on the Hill have not had a formal meeting or organized their efforts, and one of Perry’s supporters, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), struggled to name which of his colleagues also supported the governor.

“I don’t really know who else,” Scalise said. “I couldn’t give you a list of them. I imagine there’s one that’s assembled somewhere. I think it’s clear that’s not a main focus of the Perry campaign. They’re focused on getting his grass-roots base built up in the early primary states and raising money to compete.”

The race for Member endorsements is a prickly process for candidates — especially Perry, who’s branded himself as an anti-Washington candidate. Perry unveiled two major gubernatorial endorsements this week, but on Capitol Hill his campaign has been slower to boast about support.

At least nine Members have voiced their support for Perry: Sen. James Inhofe (Okla.), Reps. John Carter (Texas), Mike Conaway (Texas), John Culberson (Texas), Sam Graves (Mo.), Michael McCaul (Texas), Candice Miller (Mich.), Mick Mulvaney (S.C.) and Scalise. Perry’s campaign did not return an email request seeking a list of its endorsements or comment about its outreach efforts.

Despite this, Perry’s public backers total more than any presidential candidate who has served in Congress and more than half of two-time presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s tally.

via Congressional Endorsements Not Focus for Perry : Roll Call Politics.


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