Rick Perry headed back to Iowa, showing serious 2016 interest

Perry’s upcoming sojourn will mark his third trip to the Hawkeye State since November as he continues to assess his prospects, which would rely heavily on generating momentum from a strong showing in Iowa.

He has in recent years built a close relationship with Branstad, who is widely expected to win re-election in November. In December, Perry hosted his Iowa counterpart at a Houston fundraiser — an event described by a Perry confidant as the most successful fundraiser held by a fellow Republican for the Branstad campaign.

And Perry has invited Branstad to Dallas in October for another opportunity to tap into Texas’ rich GOP donor base.

Last week, Perry became the first potential 2016 Republican contender to wade into Iowa’s wide-open GOP Senate primary when he endorsed former U.S. attorney Matt Whitaker ahead of the June 3 primary. Perry’s upcoming visit will include an event on behalf of Whitaker, who was a state co-chair for the three-term governor’s 2012 White House run.