With a Texas-sized splash, Lone Star State Governor Rick Perry has officially jumped into the primary race and has vaulted to the top position if you believe the early polls (BTW polling at this stage is directional, but don't read too much into them yet).
Pros: Ability to connect with party faithful, appeal in socially conservative Iowa and South Carolina, executive experience, Texas has record of job creation during the recession, very charismatic, good at throwing "red meat" to tea party activists, will raise boku $$, has played the election game without losing for 20 years
Cons: close your eyes and he sounds like George W. Bush, gaffe-prone, evangelical religious conservatism may not play well outside of socially conservative states, statements alluding to state secession and extremism libertarian view of government makes electability an issue, Texas has multiple issues with poverty, education, and poor access to healthcare
Odds for the nomination: Actually quite good if he avoids gaffes and can show electability. Romney will be his main competition, although he has to guard his flank against Bachmann.
Perry has a real shot at this and if he polishes his act and appears presidential (as opposed to simply rhetorical and theatrical) he may well outlast Romney. He will do poorly in NH, but should do very well in delegate-rich southern and midwestern states. What he needs to watch are statements that get him in trouble (Ben Bernake take note) and an image of a good 'ol boy. His campaign skills will serve him well if he can remake his image.