SAN ANTONIO -- The longest-serving governor in the United States and in the history of Texas is hanging up his spurs.
"The time has come to pass on the mantle of leadership," Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas) told a warehouse full of supporters in San Antonio. "Today I'm announcing I will not seek reelection as governor of Texas."
Introduced by wife and First Lady of Texas Anita Perry, Perry thanked supporters and ticked off some of the more memorable events that occurred during his governship, "such as visiting those shelters set up for the victims of Hurricane Katrina and Ike, as Texas showed the nation we are a people rich with compassion."
Much of Perry's speech focused on the bullet points of his 13-year gubernatorial resume, along with what seemed to be a new campaign catchphrase -- "Texas works."
"We have created the strongest economy in the nation. We have balanced budgets while prioritizing critical infrastructure including water, roads and public education," said Perry.
Perry chose as the site of his announcement Holt Cat, a heavy machinery business run by San Antonio Spurs owner Peter Holt, a long time friend and donor to Perry's political campaigns.
"We believe that jobs are the key to everything, and I was just mentioning not only has he brought new jobs into Texas, new businesses, but he's also helped us," said Holt, who suggests Texans can nonetheless handle the change.
"I think Texas is always ready for change because I think Texas like change," said Holt. "I think he's done a terrific job, and I would obviously support him if he said, 'Yes, I'm going to run one more time.' But change doesn't ever hurt."
"It's sad in many ways because it's easier to carry on with what you're doing that start anew," said supporter Don Johnson. "We've got a lot of good Republicans in the State of Texas. I'm sure there will be people that are ready to sign up and lead the state, and I think they will follow in his footsteps."
The race to succeed Perry has now begun. Much of the focus has been on Republican Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who has built up a war chest of more than $18 million but has yet to announce his intentions.
"Well it starts all the dominoes," said Republican political consultant Matt Mackowiak. "Everyone was waiting on Perry's decision and his announcement about the future. Now it allows Abbott to make his announcement. It gives a sense of formality to the process, allows all the other candidates to move forward with their own plans."
"Our work together is not done," Abbott said in a statement released Monday. "And over the next year and a half, we will continue our work to keep Texas the very best state for attracting jobs, raising families and advancing freedom."
Perry stopped short of a commitment to another presidential run, telling supporters, "I'll also pray and reflect and work to determine my own future path."
Political consultant and former presidential campaign spokesperson Ray Sullivan afterwards told media the move will give Perry more freedom to put together a national network of supporters, if in fact his plans include another shot at the White House.
"There's a lot more opportunity to make those trips, to have those conversations without having to prepare for a governor's race or a legislative session," said Sullivan.
"I think he's done a great job," said supporter Katie Stavinoha. "I mean, he's a fiscal conservative, his heart's in the right place, and he's really worked real hard over the last 25 years."
The announcement comes as welcome news to Texas Democrats, many of whom released statements Monday concerning Perry's decision.
"I congratulate Governor Perry on his lifetime of public service and I feel confident the next campaign will sort itself out in due time," said state Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth), whose filibuster opposing controversial abortion legislation catapulted her into the national spotlight and has sparked calls for her to run for governor as well. "For now, my priorities remain the same."
"After twelve years of failed policies and divisive rhetoric, it’s welcome news that Governor Perry announced he will not run for re-election," said Battleground Texas executive director Jenn Brown. "It’s time for a new era in the Lone Star state – Texans deserve a leader who will stand up and fight for their values."
Perry reflected Monday on what leaving the governor's office will mean personally.
"I will truly miss serving in this capacity because it is the greatest job in modern politics," said Perry.
The end of a dynasty beecomes the beginning of a new campaign season, and Perry may still have some surprises to come.