Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is calling in a tried and true out-of-state gun to bolster his re-election campaign: Texas Governor Rick Perry.
Perry is far from the cleanest surrogate -- his recent indictment in Texas has already been raised by Brownback's opponent in the race. His economic policy views track closely with those that have made Brownback a bipartisan target in the state. Yet the governor, a one time and, based on everything he's done in the last few months, future presidential candidate, represents a bold name for Brownback, who has faced upheaval in his own party due in recent months and has, somewhat surprisingly, found himself in a tight race.
"It's all about rallying the base," Burdett Loomis, a political science professor at the University of Kansas, said in a telephone interview.
Perry will appear at a $500 to $4,000 reception Wednesday night for Brownback and his running mate, Jeff Colyer, according to an invitation posted on Brownback's website. Davis has already used Brownback's support for Perry's 2012 presidential run in the race, pointing out during the September 6 debate between the two that the last candidate Brownback supported for president "is under indictment."
But Perry, long a close friend of Brownback's, represents a governor who has a storyline of economic success with his state -- one Brownback can point out lines up with his own policies that have been heavy on tax cuts.
The message, Loomis said, is that Perry's "policies in Texas have been successful, thus Brownback's policies in Kansas will be successful."
It's a timely message for Brownback, who watched two credit rating firms downgrade the state, citing effects of income-tax cuts that weren't matched by spending.
The reductions have been controversial, in a bipartisan way. More than 100 Republicans, including a former chairman of the state’s party, last month endorsed Davis. Republicans have taken notice. Another potential 2016 frontrunner, New Jersey Governor Christ Christie, visited the state in August in his role as the chairman of the Republican Governors Association.
The RGA dropped $600,000 on an ad buy attacking Davis in August, announcing its rollout right before Christie's visit. Outside groups have already spent millions in the race (something the Kansas City Star lays out in great detail here.) Polling in the race remains mixed, but Brownback's approval ratings have stayed firmly in the low 40s.
All the more reason for an energized base -- something Perry, still riding somewhat of a wave from an indictment that Republicans viewed as an overtly political attack. As Loomis put it: "You don't bring in Rick Perry to move to the middle in Kansas."