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Perry Possibility Puts Sessions, Cornyn in Tough Spot

If Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) does jump into the race for the White House, he probably won’t be able to count on endorsements from two of the most powerful Texans in Congress.

That’s because both National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) and National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) have so far indicated that they plan to stay neutral in the presidential race — even if their home state governor is in the mix.

It’s a unique predicament for the two Lone Star State Republicans because, more often than not, Members of Congress will endorse or encourage presidential candidates from their home states. Sessions had nothing but nice things to say about Perry in a brief interview with Roll Call two weeks ago, but emphasized his need to stay in the good graces of all the candidates because of his role as NRCC chairman.

Perry “has not made those decisions,” Sessions said at the time. “As chairman of the NRCC, I’m sure you respect that I need to remain a favorite supporter of anybody who’s in that race right now.”

A source close to Cornyn confirmed Friday that the two-term NRSC chairman also plans to stay neutral in the presidential race.

Congressional campaign committee chiefs have a mixed record of playing in presidential politics. In 2008, both Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla), the NRCC chairman, and then-Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), the NRSC chairman, stayed on the sidelines in the GOP nomination fight.

But also in 2008, then-DSCC Chairman Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) was an early backer of his fellow Empire State Senator, Hillary Rodham Clinton, in the Democratic primary for president. Then-DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) announced he was endorsing President Barack Obama on June 4, 2008 — just a couple of days before Clinton dropped out of the race but only after it was clear she wouldn’t win.

Perry has kept quiet about his ambitions, with one recent exception. After saying for months that he was not interested in a White House bid, Perry told reporters in Texas last month he planned to “think about” a presidential bid after Memorial Day weekend — and then quickly added, “But I think about a lot of things.”

Publicly, Perry’s aides have said there has been no change in the governor’s thinking about pursuing a presidential bid. But privately, many of the Texas governor’s confidants have told reporters that he is “actively considering” a campaign.

David Drucker contributed to this report.

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