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Political Notebook

No fan of Bay State, Perry heads for Hub

September 10, 2011

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Governor Rick Perry of Texas has not shown a lot of love for Massachusetts.

He is challenging Mitt Romney, the state’s former governor, for the Republican presidential nomination. He dismissed President Obama’s vacation on Martha’s Vineyard this summer by saying, “I’m not even sure where it is.’’ And he unloaded on the Commonwealth in his book, “Fed Up!’’

“I would no more consider living in Massachusetts than I suspect a great number of folks from Massachusetts would like to live in Texas,’’ Perry wrote. “We just don’t agree on a number of things. They passed state-run health care, they have sanctioned gay marriage, and they elected Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, and Barney Frank repeatedly - even after actually knowing about them and what they believe!’’

But the tough-talking Tea Party favorite is headed here Tuesday, for a speech before a conservative policy group in downtown Boston. Perry, who has displaced Romney at the front of the Republican field, will headline the Pioneer Institute’s 20th annual Better Government Competition Awards Dinner at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

Former Massachusetts governor William F. Weld, a Republican who endorsed Obama in the 2008 presidential race, is also scheduled to speak, along with state Representative William N. Brownsberger, a Belmont Democrat who won the Better Government award for his plan to reform the state pension system.

Jim Stergios, the institute’s executive director and a former undersecretary for environmental policy in the Romney administration, said the invitation to Perry was not intended as a slight to Romney.

Stergios said Perry was invited to the event in February, before he had launched his presidential campaign.

— Michael Levenson

Romney energy adviser is coal company’s lobbyist WASHINGTON - Jim Talent, the former senator from Missouri, argues for looser restrictions on domestic energy production in one of several commentaries included as part of the economic plan GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney unveiled this week.

“America has hundreds of years of coal reserves,’’ writes Talent, a Republican and key Romney economic adviser, blaming government regulation for hampering production.

“The problem is not that America does not have energy. The problem is that our government - alone among the governments of the world - will not allow its own people to recover the energy that they possess.’’

What the former Missouri senator’s essay does not mention is that the Washington lobbying and communications firm he leads as cochairman, Mercury Public Affairs, counts among its clients Peabody Energy, a St. Louis-based company that is one the largest coal producers in the world.

Peabody Energy has paid Talent’s firm an average of $125,000 every year for the past five years to help represent its interests in Washington, records show.

The Mercury website does not indicate what lobbyists or partners work directly on the Peabody account, so the level of Talent’s involvement with the firm could not be determined.

A message seeking comment from Romney was not returned today.

A woman who answered the telephone at Talent’s firm, Mercury, said he was unavailable. A message left for him seeking comment was not returned. A message left at The Heritage Foundation, where Talent is a senior fellow, also was not returned.

A spokeswoman for Peabody Energy declined to comment.

— Donovan Slack