“If he gets in, he’s the guy to beat,” Johnson said in an interview in his office, steps from the state capitol building. “He’s a voracious campaigner and he’s a true conservative.”

Even Perry’s critics give him points for ability.

“The last thing anybody should do is underestimate his campaign skills,” said Texas House Democrat Garnet Coleman of Houston. “His only objective is to strengthen himself politically, and he’s not afraid to do or say something controversial if it brings him a bigger audience.”…

“He would be a hot ticket in the short term, for sure,” said Bruce Buchanan, a political scientist at the University of Texas in Austin. “Whether he could be competitive in a general election is a big question.”