George Prescott Bush filed the official paperwork Tuesday to run for Texas land commissioner next year, hoping to use a little-known but powerful post to continue his family’s political dynasty in one of the country’s most-conservative states.
A Spanish-speaking attorney and consultant based in Fort Worth, Bush is considered a rising star among conservative Hispanics. And as grandson of one former president and nephew of another, his political pedigree is hard to match.
Bush unveiled a new campaign website with a “George P. Bush for Land Commissioner” logo and featuring a three-minute video in which he says, “Texas is an exceptional state because we as Texans are exceptional.”
In the video, Bush describes spending the last few months traveling the state and having hundreds of conversations with a variety of people, but says he kept returning to the advice of his grandmother — former first lady Barbara Bush, whom he calls “Ganny.” Bush says she taught him the importance of public service.
“If you believe, as I do, that Texas is truly an exceptional place with a rich heritage and a future of unbound potential, than I ask for your support as I run for Texas land commissioner in 2014,” Bush said.
Bush filed paperwork last November with the Texas Ethics Commission signifying he would seek statewide office in 2014, but he did not say which office he would seek. That touched off rumors he could try to become attorney general or eners, a business consulting firm.
A Democrat has not won statewide office in Texas since 1994, but Hispanics accounted for two-thirds of the state’s population growth over the last decade and now make up 35 percent of its population. They tend to vote overwhelmingly Democratic — but many of the GOP’s top brass hope Bush can change that.
In the video he said the state knows how to honor and respect its veterans but also notes that Texas needs to improve its schools and public education: “It is time for true, meaningful reform to a system that fails too many of our children.” He added that Texans have a “higher responsibility of stewardship of our natural resources.”
Bush describes in the video that, in addition to its key role on natural resources, the General Land Office plays an important part in veterans’ affairs while also overseeing the Permanent School Fund, which administers funding to public school districts around Texas.
Current Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson said he believes running with the Bush name is “both a blessing a curse.” Given how Bush announced an impending run for an office to be named later, some critics accused him of cynically shopping for the most politically opportunistic office rather than being seriously interested in a specific one.
But Patterson said that was a mere byproduct of Bush not being ready to make an announcement yet.
Patterson described Bush as smart and qualified but stopped short of offering an official endorsement Tuesday.