With Rick Perry in Race, Which Governor Has the Best Record?

VIDEO: Rick Perry to Join 2012 Presidential Race

Rick Perry's entrance to the presidential field means a fourth sitting or former governor has entered the field. The nine announced GOP presidential candidates run the gamut when it comes to their political backgrounds. Three served in the U.S. House, one served in the Senate, one has never held elected office.

Governors can tout their executive experience, which voters in recent years have responded well to. Recent presidents Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton were governors before entering the White House.

The newest addition to the ever-expanding circle of presidential contenders is Texas Gov. Perry, the longest-serving governor in state history. For Perry, who will officially announce his presidential bid on Saturday, accomplishment No. 1 is job creation.

Over the past year, Texas' job growth was twice the national average. In fact, of all the jobs created since June 2009, 30 percent – about 295,000 jobs – were created in Texas, according to a report from the Dallas Federal Reserve which analyzed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"It's a pretty large number no matter which way you look at it," said Mine Yucel, vice president and senior economist at the Dallas Federal Reserve. "Texas has added a disproportionate share of jobs and it has grown faster than the rest of the U.S."

Yucel said much of this job growth can be attributed to Texas' low tax rate – the state has no income tax -- few regulations and a law limiting tort litigation. Texas, according to Perry, is the "epicenter of growth."

But Lis Smith, spokeswoman for the Democratic Governors Association, said Texas's lower unemployment rates have less to do with Perry's policies and more to do with Texas's natural resources.

"Rick Perry has touted the Texas miracle, but it's more like the Texas tall tale," said Smith. "Just remember that the growth he talks about has been driven by factors he didn't control like rising oil prices and increased military spending."

The Texas unemployment rate has been below the national average for his entire decade-long tenure. The most recent jobs report showed that at 8.2 percent the Texas unemployment rate was 1 percentage point lower than the national average.

"Someone had put a report out that the first state that's coming out of the recession is going to be the state of Texas ... I said, 'We're in one?'" Perry said in September 2009.

Still, 25 states had a lower unemployment rate in June 2011 than Texas, including Pawlenty's state of Minnesota in which 6.7 percent of the population is unemployed.

And while Minnesota's unemployment has now dropped off from its peak of 8.3 percent in 2010, the state was plagued by budget struggles while Pawlenty was governor.

Pawlenty took office in 2003 when the state's budget was facing a $2 billion shortfall. Within his first year as governor Moody's rating agency downgraded Minnesota from a perfect AAA credit rating to AA1, one step lower, citing short-term fixes to long-term budget woes as the reason for the downgrade.

"Pawlenty came in with a structural deficit and he basically managed that structural deficit but never solved it," said Larry Jacobs, director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota.

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