Another member of the Bush clan is getting into politics. George P. Bush, the eldest son of former Florida governor Jeb Bush, officially announced Tuesday that he's running for land commissioner in Texas. Some political watchers had speculated that the young Bush would aim higher and run for governor — a position his uncle, George W. Bush, held before winning the presidency. But land commissioner is a big job in Texas, and often a springboard to bigger things — Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst served as land commissioner, and the current commissioner, Republican Jerry Patterson, is looking to move up, too. Will this campaign be the start of big things for George P. Bush?
Bush's supporters have plenty of reasons to be optimistic. The most obvious, of course, is his political pedigree: Great-grandson of a powerful senator, grandson of former president George H.W. Bush, nephew of George W., son of Jeb. George P. Bush made direct reference to the family dynasty in a video announcing his candidacy, when he explained how his family inspired him to run. "You probably know her as former first lady Barbara Bush," he said, "but to me she's just Ganny. The lesson Ganny taught me? The importance of public service."
George P. Bush is also a Fort Worth lawyer, co-founder of the group Hispanic Republicans of Texas (his mother, Columba, was born in Mexico), and served a deployment in Afghanistan — all experiences that are expected to impress voters. He also "has deep ties to Texas," notes CNN's political unit, and not just because of his uncle's days as governor. George P. Bush attended Rice University and the University of Texas School of Law, and served as a surrogate for George W. Bush in both of his presidential campaigns.
A Texas conservative activist, who asked to remain anonymous so as to speak candidly, said the land commission post was a "slam dunk" for Bush. "Remember, he supported [Conservative senator] Ted Cruz early and took a risk there. He's considered to be more conservative than his grandpa and uncle W. I doubt anyone will even pose a real challenge," the activist said. [CNN]
Bush's political ambitions are no surprise. He has been publicly mulling a campaign for months, and has already amassed a $1.3 million war chest. That puts him in a good position to win this job. The campaign experience and, if he gets elected, his work as land commissioner, says Mike Zapler at Politico, will help him "to build a statewide network and run for higher office in the future." And he may be in as good a position as any Republican to aim high.
Bush, who's been vocal on Hispanic outreach in the past, will be a young Hispanic voice for the GOP in a state where rapidly changing demographics could put Republicans at a disadvantage in future elections. [Politico]
Democrats, however, are convinced that "Bush's family's record in office will prove detrimental to his political aspirations," says Patricia Kilday Hart at the Houston Chronicle. As Progress Texas Executive Director Matt Glazer puts it: "Serving in elected office is a privilege, not a birthright." Polls, he says, show that Texans don't like the standardized testing and privatization policies Bush's family has pushed. "Unless [George P. Bush] can prove he's not just another Bush," Glazer says, George P. Bush is going to have a hard time convincing voters to take him where he wants to go.
In the end, "if George P advocates policies that Latino voters like and agree with, he'll do well with them," says Charles Kuffner at Off the Kuff. "If not, simply being George P. Bush will probably have little effect. This isn't a complicated thing."