The Rick Perry indictment may help more than hurt his 2016 chances

“Republicans in South Carolina are going to eat up what Perry did,” said Chad Connelly, that state’s former Republican Party chairman.

Mark Lundberg, chairman of the Sioux County GOP in Iowa, said the indictment appears to be “political gamesmanship,” and potential Iowa caucus-goers probably won’t hold it against him.

At the same time, the criminal charges could create uncertainty around Mr. Perry’s future. “If this hasn’t been dismissed by the Iowa caucuses, it will hurt him significantly—not because people believe the charges, but Republicans who participate in presidential nominations subconsciously have an eye toward electability,” said Steve Munisteri, Texas GOP chairman.

Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, a fellow Republican, said the charges may complicate Mr. Perry’s efforts to woo the big donors who provide the seed capital to most presidential campaigns. “Large donors are not philosophical,” he said. “They want to back a person they think will win.”