AUSTIN, Texas — Former Texas Republican Party chairman Tom Pauken said Friday that he plans a "grassroots campaign" to unseat three-term Gov. Rick Perry.
"I just think we need a new style of leadership in Texas," he told The Associated Press.
Pauken, who started his campaign this week with the formal appointment of a treasurer, acknowledged he will likely face opponents with more money and better name recognition. Along with Perry, Attorney General Greg Abbott is expected to run, although neither has yet formally declared.
Perry has $6 million on hand, plus a network in place to secure much more once the fundraising restrictions of the legislative session end. Abbott has more than $18 million in the bank.
In a state of 26 million people spread across 268,000 square miles with several major media markets, most serious candidates are expected to raise about $20 million.
Pauken made no pretense of any ability to outspend Perry or Abbott.
"If it's about who's going to have the most money, either Rick Perry, if he runs again, or Greg Abbott, if he runs, will prevail," he said. But, he added, "I believe we will have sufficient funds to mount an effective campaign and a winning campaign."
In his favor, Pauken has deep credentials on the socially conservative issues that have driven statewide politics in recent years. An Army veteran, he served as a White House lawyer under President Ronald Reagan. He also guided the Republican Party's statewide ascendance, becoming chairman in 1994 after an unlikely campaign he described to reporters at the time as "grassroots."
While Perry is considering running for a fourth-term, he's also said he may run for president again in 2016. A Senate bill limiting statewide office holders to two terms would not apply to him and has yet to win House passage.
His campaign did not appear concerned about possible opposition.
"The governor's focused on the legislative session, which is our priority right now, to keep Texas the best place to live, work and raise a family," said Teresa Spears, a spokeswoman for Perry.
While talking about his own campaign, Pauken gave Perry a nod.
"Rick has a lot of name recognition," he said. "That can be a plus or a minus."