Among political insiders in the Texas state capital, one thing is considered certain: Governor Rick Perry will jump into the Republican presidential race in the next few weeks.
But what happens then, in a campaign where many Republicans are hungry for an alternative to vulnerable frontrunner Mitt Romney, is much less predictable.

Perry’s entry in the 2012 race would shake up a field of potential challengers to President Barack Obama that has drawn yawns from Republican activists, potentially elevating him near the top of a pack that also includes conservative rivals Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty.

But Perry, who favors cowboy boots and once boasted he shot a coyote while jogging, could face big hurdles making up ground in fund raising and expanding his appeal to a broader electorate with fresh and often unfavorable memories of another former Texas governor — George W. Bush.

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