By Mike Ward, Austin American-Statesman, Texas
Gov. Rick Perry has announced a string of endorsements in the upcoming elections, from Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the U.S. Senate race to various state House and Senate candidates, even a combat veteran running for Congress in Minnesota.
But Perry, who touts his conservative and tea party credentials, hasn't publicly supported the current House speaker, Joe Straus, who has been criticized in some quarters for not being conservative enough.
Straus faces Republican challenger Matt Beebe in his San Antonio district, though he is elected speaker by his House colleagues.
When Perry was asked about his lack of an endorsement for a top Texas Republican leader, the governor said he hasn't been asked for an endorsement.
"I don't endorse people until they ask me," he told reporters outside the Howson Branch Library in West Austin, where he and Dewhurst cast early ballots for the May 29 Republican primary.
In a statement, Straus' campaign spokeswoman Erin Daly said that he appreciates all endorsements he receives. She didn't say whether Perry was asked for an endorsement.
"Speaker Straus is proud of his endorsements from business groups, first responders and conservative leaders throughout Texas and welcomes support from anyone who appreciates his respectful conservative leadership in the Texas House," the statement said. Straus and Perry have not always seen eye to eye.
In recent weeks, Straus declined to sign Perry's budget compact, which features an anti-tax pledge. Straus said that although he agrees with its principles and "has delivered results on them" as leader of the 150-member House, he has a longstanding policy of not signing pledges.
In other comments Wednesday, Perry indicated he cast his ballot for GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney, whom he bitterly attacked as too liberal when he was running against him.
He said he thinks Romney will absolutely win in November and that he fully supports the former Massachusetts governor.
"On a scale of 10, show me as a 10," Perry said. "We don't really have an option here, if you're a person who cares about the future of this country."
"The election may be close, but it shouldn't be," said Perry, who also has said he might run for president again in 2016.
Asked about reports that he and University of Texas President Bill Powers are at odds over Powers' support of a tuition increase, Perry said, "I just happen to think that David (Dewhurst) and I are on the right side of the equation. There's no frustration. Bill Powers is on the wrong side of that issue."
(c)2012 Austin American-Statesman, Texas