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Perry's SC Organization Could Be Key to Resurgence

Texas Gov. hoping ground game will be the difference

As many commentators have already noted, the pursuit of the Republican Party’s nomination for president has been one of the most — if not the most—unpredictable races in the modern era.

And votes are yet to be cast.

No candidate typifies the capriciousness of the race thus far better than Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

And now Perry, once thought to be written off, is polling in double-digits again in Iowa and South Carolina. What makes Perry different from the others who rose just as quickly as they fell is his strong grassroots organization.

At the center of that organization is Katon Dawson, a former state GOP chair who nearly became the national chair in 2009. Dawson originally was aligned with Newt Gingrich, but jumped ship when the former Speaker appeared to lose interest in his own campaign.

If Dawson has any regrets about abandoning Gingrich—who is well ahead of Perry in the latest polling — he is hiding them well. If anything, he seems emboldened by Perry’s chances.

“People are taking another look at Gov. Perry,” said Dawson. “I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen on the ground.”

Both Dawson and David Wilkins, another notable Perry backer, believe that much of the Republican base is still undecided. . The numbers present a real opportunity for Perry given his strong presence in the state, a presence that allowed him to outpace the rest of the field in third quarter fundraising.

Wilkins believes all the undecided voters in the base are the reason there has been such volatility in polling numbers. “That’s I think it’s an indication that many voters have not yet settled on a candidate,” he said.

Some thought Perry lost some of the momentum he recovered recently with a controversial commercial that linked gays in the military to school prayer. It spawned a backlash that led to dozens of unflattering spoofs. The ratio of people who dislike the ad to those who liked it is better than 30 to 1.

Dawson, however, found the ad effective. “Governor Perry believes the military should not be used for political purposes,” he said. “That was the point of the commercial.”

Despite all the tumult, Dawson believes the party will unite behind whoever ends up being the nominee, “The desire to replace the person who is in the White House will override whatever divisions there are in the Republican Party,” he said.

Dawson is confident that Perry’s organization in South Carolina, where he has 13 employees, will ultimately be the difference between him and the other contenders.

Wilkins, a former state Speaker of the House and Ambassador to Canada who worked on the Bush campaign in 2000, said that race was very different from this one in that a frontrunner was established early on.

“There just is a lot of jockeying around compared to back then,” Wilkins said. “There have been people at 18 and 20 percent at different points, but nobody up in the 35-40 percent area. “It seems like whoever moves up gets put in the firing line and falls back.”

Nevertheless, Wilkins believes that crunch time, as it were, has arrived. “The race has been fluctuating every week but voters will really start tuning in after Christmas,” he said.

Which means the very unpredictability that hurt Perry in the fall could end up helping him when it matters most.

Denis & Sharon Doyle December 22, 2011 at 06:00 PM
He may not be the best debator, but he is the only one who has a proven record of creating jobs, is a man of faith with great family values, has served in the military and knows what it takes to secure our borders plus a very good written specific plans outlined in detail on his website. The others pale in comparison --Don't think anyone who has not served in the military shoud be Commander In Chief!!!!
Mimi December 22, 2011 at 08:35 PM
He created GOVERMENT funded minimum wage jobs with the STIMULUS. If calling a extremist evanglist a man of faith is very questionable at best. You can't hold the title of a person of faith when you are full of so much hatred for people. If he knows what it takes to secure the boarders why hasn't he done it yet??? Build another fence that costs the tax payers billions that doesn't work??? Lots of people serve in the millitary doesn't make them able to serve in anything. So in your opinion our country should be under millitary rule because they are the best in our everyday affairs. Just because you do a stint in the millitary (this countries largest socialist program) does not give you knowledge of dealing with foreign affairs or diplomacy. So truly your arguments defending Ricky are really full of holes and hold no evidence of facts whatsoever. But nice try.
Mark Hudson December 22, 2011 at 09:37 PM
Rick Perry is the best choice for President
Mimi December 23, 2011 at 01:01 AM
Based on what Mark?? Just because it seems like a fun thing to say???
stanley seigler December 23, 2011 at 05:13 AM
@Denis & Sharon Doyle re: not served in the military... FDR had/did not served in the military and led our country to victory in WW II in a wheel chair... re: creating jobs... [CLIPS] Texas has the 24th highest unemployment rate in the U.S. at 8.5 percent. That’s greater than 7.4 percent for Utah, where Jon Huntsman governed, as well as 7.3 for Massachusetts, the state where Mitt Romney served as governor from 2003 to 2007. But it’s better than the national average of 9.1 percent Overall, 9.5 percent of Texans make minimum wage or below, versus 6 percent nationwide. benefits: a quarter of its workers uninsured...Its mark of 25 percent was well above the national average of 15.8 percent. Overall, the governor’s employment gains are nothing to fawn over, since a large percentage of the jobs pay low wages and lack benefits [end clips] http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/fact-checker-biography-rick-perrys-record-on-texas-job-creation/2011/11/11/gIQAKk4iCN_blog.html re: a very good written specific plans outlined in detail on his website no mention re penalties for private employers who hire illegals in perry' plan...besides, immigration should be a fed issues and states should push their US senators and representatives to require the fed to enforce existing laws or enact an comprehensive immigration policy. opine: GOP candidates' positives and negatives are immaterial...it's BO in a landslide.

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