The leading Republican heavyweights in Texas -- long-term Gov. Rick Perry and freshman Sen. Ted Cruz -- could be headed for a showdown in 2016.
The possibility of both men throwing their hats into the ring for the GOP's presidential nomination is the talk of the Lone Star State, reports Politico.
"It would be the battle of the titans," Steve Munisteri, chairman of the Texas Republican Party, told the publication. "They are both very popular here. Obviously Ted Cruz is riding a wave of immense popularity, but I think the governor has a lot of residual goodwill."
Although Perry ran for president in 2012 and has indicated he is interested in another bid for the White House, Cruz has become the darling of the conservative tea party movement for his aggressive stance against Obamacare, leading the way to last month's government shutdown.
"What we do know is that what was once Rick Perry's party is now very clearly Ted Cruz's," one Texas GOP operative told Politico.
But Perry, who has announced he will not run for re-election as governor, is using his position as the state's top elected official to maintain a presence in the national spotlight.
The governor returned to Des Moines, Iowa, last Thursday, meeting with business and political leaders and touting his record during three terms in office.
Perry has frequently claimed credit
for "The Texas Miracle," citing low taxes and little regulation that he says helped the state maintain its relative economic strength during the recession.
"The answers for the country are going to be found in these state capitals, not in Washington, D.C," Perry said in an interview with The Dallas Morning News.
Perry said that most Americans are tired of Washington infighting all around and, while polls show most people blame the GOP for last month's government shutdown, it hurt Democrats as much as Republicans.
"It’s a 'pox on both their houses,' is what Americans think, because Washington is dysfunctional," Perry told the newspaper.
He also drew a sharp contrast between himself and Cruz. Asked about the senator's role in the government shutdown, Perry responded, "Everybody gets to go out and do their thing. That's his thing. My thing is governing."
Cruz is also likely to draw a sharp distinction between himself and Perry if they do face off in the GOP primaries a little over two years from now.
"It's not hard to conceive of what Ted Cruz's line of criticism against Perry would be: 'This is somebody who is the past, a member of the establishment. I'm the future,' "Jim Henson, an Austin-based pollster and the director of the Texas Politics Project, told Politico.
If Cruz and Perry both run, they would be competing head on for Texas donors and big name supporters as well. The initial victors could be the state's political pundits.
"It will be Christmas every day for people who do what we do," Evan Smith, editor-in-chief of The Texas Tribune, told Politico. "It will be amazing."
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