Texas Gov. Rick Perry began his latest visit to California on a quest to lure businesses to move jobs to his state by promoting low taxes and lax regulations.
The former Republican presidential candidate began meeting with business leaders in the San Francisco Bay Area on Monday. His office said Perry will meet with leaders in the high tech, biotechnology, financial, insurance and film industries during his three-day trip, but declined to name any of the businesses he is targeting.
The trip follows a 30-second radio ad that began airing last week in which Perry criticized California's business climate.
"Building a business is tough, but I hear building a business in California is next to impossible," Perry says in the ad, which was paid for by a public-private marketing partnership called TexasOne. "There are plenty of reasons Texas has been named the best state for doing business for eight years running."
Some business leaders said Perry may have a difficult time persuading businesses to leave the Golden State, particularly in the talent-rich Silicon Valley, known for technological innovation.
Kim Polese, chairwoman of financial services company ClearStreet Inc., and former chief executive of software company SpikeSource, said she is glad Perry is spotlighting the issue of California's competitiveness and the need for some changes.
"But the startup world is thriving here in the valley," she said. She says startups are more concerned with issues like crowd funding and a ready workforce than taxes and regulations.
"I don't think it's impossible for other regions to create innovation centers, but the best talent in the world today gravitate to one place, here," Polese said. "And you need that talent to keep up with the speed at which technology is happening."
Since flaming out as a presidential candidate, Perry has kept mum on his political future. He faces re-election in 2014 and has said he'll make a decision after the Texas Legislature adjourns this summer.
Perry hasn't ruled out another shot at the White House or running to remain the nation's longest-serving governor. But seeking a fourth full term in Texas might not be a cakewalk: although Democrats aren't likely to mount a serious challenge for governor in 2014, Perry could face a stiff primary battle from the state's popular and well-funded attorney general.
California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, last week dismissed Perry's $24,000 in radio ads as a cheap gimmick that would barely make a dent. He said California has been adding more jobs than any other state. Non-farm payrolls increased by nearly 226,000 jobs in 2012.
He also wondered whether Perry might have a change of heart after arriving.
"A lot of these Texans, they come here, they don't go back," he told reporters. "Who would want to spend their summers in 110-degree heat inside some kind of a fossil-fueled air conditioner? Not a smart way to go."
Perry is visiting the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles and Orange County through Wednesday. TexasOne is also paying for the trip.
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