The Governor earns a salary of $150,000 per year (as of 2010) and has use of the Governor's Mansion near the capitol in Austin. State funds also provide for use of a limousine, an aircraft, and a staff of over two hundred. The use of this staff, a valuable asset, varies depending on the officeholder, but staff are typically deployed on tasks that include working on legislation, responding to constituent problems, media relations, and a variety of political and administrative tasks ranging from issue research to promotion of the governor's political agenda. Governors are also provided a security detail that protects them whether or not they are conducting state business.
With the growth of electronic media, the governor is in a position to communicate more easily with the public than most other state officials. This capacity provides a valuable political asset that again invites comparison with the U.S. President. Like the U.S. chief executive, the Governor is a figurehead, and thus can use this unique position to grab the attention of the public. The ability to turn this position into a real political asset, though, depends on the ability of the governor and his or her political advisors to exploit this position. Bland personalities, boring or poor speaking styles, or negative publicity can reduce a governor's ability to exploit the unique properties of the office. The governor shares some of this ability with other officials of the plural executive, though in the eyes of the public, the governor is the official most immediately identified with state government.
The success of state governors in the presidential arena in recent years, along with Texas' status as the second most populous state, has led to plenty of talk about governors as potential presidents. But with the exception of George W. Bush, Texas governors have not often used the office as a springboard into national politics, and those who have tried have met with limited success. In the post-World War II era, Governor John Connally (1963-1969) was appointed Secretary of the Treasury by President Richard Nixon after serving as governor, but he was unsuccessful when he sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1980. In the pre-war era, three governors successfully ran for U.S. Senate seats, but more than twice that many governors or former governors have attempted to gain election to the Senate and failed.
In the wake of Connally's fizzled presidential run, with the obvious Bush exception, former governors have been more successful pursuing political, legal, and business opportunities in Texas than they have been in becoming national leaders. One recent exception was Ann Richards, who remained visible as a Democratic voice in the national media (though not as an elected or appointed official) until her death in 2006. But overall, the perks of being Texas governor have only occasionally included gaining national prominence.