Editorial: Rick Perry is the 2010 Texan of the Year - Dallas Morning News
After 26 years in public office, Perry still is undefeated. And now, after winning an unprecedented third full term at the helm of state government, he has made history. While his record as governor remains open for discussion, Perry's political instincts have been nearly infallible. With cowboy swagger and bold declarations, he has carved his own path, ducking debates and flirting with secession.
Foes and fans of our polarizing governor both acknowledge Perry's impact on Texas politics. In a weak-governor state, he has seized a bullhorn, making himself heard across Texas and beyond. For those reasons, Perry is the 2010 Dallas Morning News Texan of the Year.
Fence-sitters are rare when talk turns to Rick Perry.
Supporters and allies laud him as a consistent, dependable conservative. He is fiercely protective of business interests and committed to keeping taxes low in Texas – even if the resulting cutbacks are painful. He has become the face of Republicanism in one of the nation's reddest red states.
Perry's detractors – and there are plenty from both parties – point to the consequences of fiscal austerity, including the state's bottom-of-the-barrel rankings in categories from the rate of children without health insurance to the number of adults without high school diplomas. They say the governor is overly concerned about political fallout and alarmingly unconcerned about developing and pushing through a coherent legislative agenda.
To many, Perry appears ruthless, Nixonian even, as he transparently rewards friends and punishes enemies.
His style raises a stream of ethical red flags. And despite his lengthy tenure, Perry can lay claim to few signature achievements, making him a more accomplished campaigner than leader.
Sunday's editorial culminated a 10-part series that named the following finalists: Fort Worth City Council member Joel Burns, for his anti-bullying stand; Plano East science phenom Amy Chyao; Jennifer Smith, founder of the FocusDriven campaign against distracted driving; Dick Armey, master tactician behind the tea party movement; Greg Hall, the Houston-area drilling executive credited with the rescue plan for the Chilean miners; Texas border heroes who lend a hand to violence-wracked Ciudad Juarez, including Socorro Brito de Anda, Rich Mackey and Janet Hunt; Ed Whitacre, the former AT&T chairman who led the rescue of General Motors; Kelly Siegler, the career prosecutor credited with freeing Anthony Graves from death row; and Ron Washington, manager of the American League champion Texas Rangers.
Now in its eighth year, the Dallas Morning News Texan of the Year series draws from reader nominations to the newspaper's Editorial Board. Criteria call for "a Texan (or Texans) who has had uncommon impact; who exemplifies Texas traits of trailblazing, independence and staring down adversity; and who has affected/influenced lives. Recognition is for impact – either positive or negative – made over the past year." The Editorial Board selected the finalists and winner through an internal vote.
"Selecting the 2010 Dallas Morning News Texan of the Year was extremely difficult—on a number of levels," said Keven Ann Willey, vice president and editorial page editor of The News. "We ultimately set emotion and personal preference aside and decided, really, who could eclipse Rick Perry as Texan of the Year? It took several votes and hours of arguing, but in the end we decided: Nobody."
Recent Dallas Morning News Texans of the Year include:
* 2009: The Heroes of Fort Hood (recognizing those caught up in the terror of a mass shooting, extended to include all Fort Hood-based military people and their families)
* 2008: Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins (for his dedication to reversing cases of injustice)
* 2007: the illegal immigrant (caused the political and social pot to boil, while keeping Texas' economy humming)
* 2006: Roy Velez of Lubbock (for exemplifying love and compassion in the face of overwhelming tragedy, the war-related loss of his two sons)
* 2005: the city of Houston (for its stellar response to Hurricane Katrina victims)