Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

Why Rick Perry’s Remarks on Gays Could Sour Tesla on Texas

RIck Perry gives GOP delegates at the state convention a thumbs up in June 2014.

Ben Philpott/KUT

RIck Perry gives GOP delegates at the state convention a thumbs up in June 2014.

From KUT News: 

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has made a career out of visiting, recruiting, and relocating businesses from California to Texas. But as the state’s GOP continues to push further and further to the right of the political spectrum, could the state’s ultra-conservative stance hurt recruitment from a progressive state?

First came the Texas Republican Party platform that said homosexuality is a choice and endorsed therapy aimed at “curing” people of being gay – a therapy banned in California.

Then, while on a company recruitment trip – one specifically aimed at enticing California based car maker Tesla to build a factory in Texas – Gov. Perry told a group of businesspeople that homosexuality was like alcoholism: whether or not you feel compelled to do something, you have the ability not to act on your urges.

“I may have the genetic coding that I’m inclined to be an alcoholic. But I have the desire not to do that. And I look at homosexual issue as the same way,” Perry said. (Watch a video of Perry’s response.)

Reporters in the room for the event say people in the crowd gasped after hearing Perry’s statement. The governor took plenty of criticism over the weekend for his comparison, leading up to a testy exchange with CNBC “Squawk Box” co-anchor Joe Kernen Monday morning.

But do Perry’s remarks, or the Texas GOP platform, affect the recruitment of businesses to Texas? Peter Cowen, a professor at University of California-Anderson and managing director of Clear Capital Advisors, says sure – politics play a role. But a state’s tax and regulatory policies and real estate costs play the largest part.

“The one area that I think bodes in Texas’s favor is it’s known as a state that has lower regulations,” Cowen says. “So lower regulations translate to lower costs and more predictability to companies.”

That’s not to say that as politics in general becomes more and more controlled from the fringes, state politics couldn’t hurt business. Hispanic business leaders have also taken offense at the tone of Lt. Gov. candidate Dan Patrick’s campaign.

“I think the issue is, if you move to a state, are you asking employees to move to a state that may be not as gay friendly – and they’re gay and they’re in California?” Cowen asks. “I’m sure that would be one factor that comes in to play, especially if they’re already settled in California.”

But Cowen points out that much of the movement to Texas, like Tesla’s possible interest or attempts to lure Sriracha, are expansions, not complete relocations. So a new factory might bring some old employees – but the vast majority of the workers would be either from Texas, or from around the country.


  • joethepleb

    Texas reputation for low regulation can’t overshadow the reality that we have regulated Tesla out of their business model in this state. I think in order to capture that new lithium-ion battery “gigafactory” changing our antiquated laws governing auto sales will have to be part of the package.

  • Smith

    I don’t think Tesla would throw away it’s business model for a statement made by a Gov. on his way out. Tesla needs to sell cars to Texans.
    Sounds like liberals wrote this article…expecting tolerance, except when it’s a belief or philosophy that isn’t congruent with their own.

    • Guest

      Tesla can’t sell cars in Texas, genius. There is a state law banning manufacturers from selling directly to the consumer which is the Tesla business model. It’s a no brainer that a company that is regulated out of marketing their product in a state is not going to reward that state with a major factory. I am a liberal by they way.

  • matilda9

    I am not seeing any indication that this was written by a liberal. But it’s standard practice for you guys to just point at others , blame any random,person that pops into your – and you said nothing about the content of the story.

    You don’t think business will go elsewhere because of things like this? Because Texas is so special.

    Look how quickly that nasty crone Jan Brewer backed down and change her mind when CEOs of huge companies called her and told her she better squash that whole ridiculous epidemic of Christians being “persecuted” because if they bake a gay wedding cake they will suffer eternal damnation

    They let her know – and have up on it- that they would pack,their bags and leave and also not open anything in AZ if they had been exploring it. They were not bluffing and I’m sure she knew – she couldn’t backtrack fast enough.

    You see everything as being about no regulations and no taxes (rather give always to companies) but there is something lurking in Texas that will put your state down and keep I there. . Your scores, among other red states, are not even in same world of other states (crazy blue states where our kids aren’t being screwed. Google Education Rankings by state.

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