Governor Rick Perry announced today that he will not be seeking reelection for a record fourth term as Texas Governor.
Perry is already Texas' longest serving governor and his decision now paves the way for other high-profile leaders in the state to announce their intentions.
"The time has come, to pass on the mantle of leadership," Gov. Perry said at an event in San Antonio Monday.
That event took place at the same place he announced he would seek a third term back in 2010. Perry's announcement on Monday means he will be leaving the office at the end of 2014, after nearly 30 years as an elected official in Texas and 13 years as its Governor. 2014 will be the first open race for the position in nearly 24 years.
"Everybody has sort of been waiting patiently to make the next move up the food chain," said Smith County Democratic Party Chair David Henderson. "I'm sure there are a lot of lead republicans relieved about that."
East Texas native and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples said, "We need strong conservative leaders like him in the future that will fight back against Obama and his liberal allies in Texas."
Perry had also served as agriculture commissioner for eight years before making his run for lieutenant governor. Staples hopes to make that same jump, with his 2014 campaign already underway.
The decision also means there will be some movement in statewide leadership, all 27 of which are currently republicans.
"This ripple effect creates a very, very large number of contested races, which to me is exciting," said Smith County Republican Club Chair David Stein. "The more people in there, the better, because the public gets to look at a wider selections of people, but it also gets people to the polls."
But with the recent rise in popularity of state democrats like Wendy Davis, is this the democrats opportunity to gain some ground?
"Would I bet $100 that democrats take back state party next year? No," said Henderson. "I wouldn't make any big bets."
Perry also left the possibility of another presidential run a mystery for now.
"Any future considerations I will announce in due time, and I will arrive at that decision appropriately," he said. "But my focus will remain on Texas."
Party leaders said they expect races at all levels of state leadership to become crowded as current leaders announce their intentions to run for higher profile roles.
Primaries in Texas are just nine months away, beginning in March 2014.
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