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Governor Perry won’t seek fourth term in Texas

Rick Perry, a conservative and fierce defender of states’ rights, is Texas’s longest-serving governor.

Eric Gay/Associated Press

Rick Perry, a conservative and fierce defender of states’ rights, is Texas’s longest-serving governor.

SAN ANTONIO — Governor Rick Perry, the longest-serving governor in Texas history, announced Monday he will not seek a fourth full term in office next year, but he did not say whether another run for the White House in 2016 could be next.

Perry was considered a champion of conservative social activism long before the Tea Party was born. He oversaw the ‘‘Texas Miracle’’ job-creation boom and became the state’s most powerful governor since Reconstruction.

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But nationally, Perry is better known for his “oops” presidential debate brain freeze or for not opposing forcefully enough the notion that Texas could secede from the union. For many outside the Lone Star State, he’s a political punchline on par with Dan Quayle.

‘‘The time has come to pass on the mantle of leadership. Today I’m announcing I will not seek reelection as governor of Texas,’’ Perry said. ‘‘I will spend the next 18 months working to create more jobs, opportunity, and innovation. I will actively lead this great state.’’

But for that future to include another run for president, Perry will first need to concentrate on rebuilding his image outside of Texas.

‘‘He’s starting behind the eight ball,’’ said South Carolina-based Republican operative Hogan Gidley, an adviser to former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum and ex-Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee — both unsuccessful presidential hopefuls who have remained national conservative forces.

Perry had never lost an election during his 27-year political career when he strapped on his signature cowboy boots and strode into the race for the GOP presidential nomination in August 2011, becoming a front-runner.

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