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By TARINI PARTI | 8/16/14 8:22 PM EDT

Rick Perry is in trouble — or is he?

Even for Texas, a state that prides itself on super-sizing everything, a grand jury’s decision to indict the governor was a big deal, shocking political observers and raising questions about the Republican’s 2016 plans.

Perry is accused of abusing his power when he publicly threatened to veto millions in funding for a unit that investigates public corruption after its leader, Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, was arrested in a case of drunken driving and caught on video acting out while in custody.

Critics say Perry, the longest-serving governor in Texas history, went too far in using his veto power to (so far unsuccessfully) coerce Lehmberg, a Democrat, to quit.

But he argues that he was well within his rights to push for her ouster. “I intend to fight against those who would erode our state’s constitution and laws purely for political purposes and I intend to win,” Perry said Saturday.

Here’s a question-and-answer guide to Perry’s legal and political jam:

How strong is the indictment?

Perry was indicted on two counts: abuse of official capacity, a first-degree felony that could carry from five to 99 years in prison; and coercion of a public servant, a third-degree felony that could carry a punishment of two to 10 years. But several legal experts said the indictment itself is thin at best.

Chris Gober, a Texas lawyer who has served as deputy counsel to the Republican National Committee, said the indictment is vague and its “applicability to the facts in this case is questionable.”

“The alleged ‘misuse of government property’ and ‘coercion’ actually involved a constitutional exercise of Governor Perry’s veto authority … I am confident there are many Texans who watched that highly damning video of Rosemary Lehmberg’s in jail and believe Governor Perry exercised his veto with that oath in mind,” he said in an email.

Stanley Brand, a D.C.-based lawyer who specializes in cases at the intersection of politics and criminal law, and has represented Democrats in the past, said the case did not belong in the legal system. “It’s a fight between the executive branch and [Lehmberg], and it’s not suitable for resolution in court,” Brand said.

Even some prominent liberals expressed reservations about the strength of the indictment. David Axelrod, a longtime aide to President Barack Obama, tweeted: “Unless he was demonstrably trying to scrap the ethics unit for other than his stated reason, Perry indictment seems pretty sketchy.”

Criminal activity or just hardball politics?

Perhaps the biggest challenge facing special prosecutor Michael McCrum is proving that Perry crossed the line from acting as a politician into acting as a criminal.

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