Maybe He Really Likes Austin

One odd detail of the Perry 2.0 campaign launch is this (from a report yesterday by National Review‘s Alexis Levinson):

It was perhaps the most surprising hire of the 2016 season.

In April, Avik Roy — the widely respected Manhattan Institute scholar, former Mitt Romney adviser, and opinion editor at Forbes who is one of the leading conservative minds on health-care policy — joined Rick Perry’s budding presidential campaign.

Roy could likely have gone with almost any presidential candidate he wished; by his own admission he had been speaking to several of the other Republicans considering running.

Originally, he told the Austin American-Statesman in April, he was planning “to not really get involved in the primaries, just talk to anyone who cared what I thought and try to be as helpful to the field as possible.”

Instead, he joined up with the former Texas governor, who torpedoed his last campaign with gaffes and missteps, and who is now seen as a long shot in his second attempt to win the White House.

Levinson then proceeds to channel Roy’s tribute to Perry as a brilliant policy innovator as governor and all that kind of stuff you’d expect to hear from the newly minted campaign advisor. But it’s clearly a head-scratcher in conservative wonk-land.

Now just because somebody knows a lot about health care policy doesn’t mean she or he knows a damn thing about how to pick a winning candidate. Or maybe Roy didn’t want any high-life competition in the policy side of the campaign he chose. Or maybe the Reformicons decided to deploy themselves widely in various campaigns and Roy drew the short straw (in 2003, when I was at the DLC, our top staffers wound up advising three different 2004 candidates, which we jokingly called our “portfolio strategy”). Or maybe he really likes hanging out in Austin.

Probably the best thing about about signing on with Team Perry is that he’s likely either to flame out or take off relatively early. If it’s the latter, Roy could be the dude who bet on an inside straight and won. If it’s the former, there’s plenty of time to bail out and discover the great merits of somebody else who’s looking up in the polls and still meeting payroll.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.