The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


New Bush in town: George P. Bush takes on the campaign trail

The title “Commissioner of the Texas General Land Office” may emerge from relative obscurity as the Republican Party touts a newcomer who possesses the charisma and presence of someone who has been in the political spotlight all his life – and in a way, he has.

George P. Bush made his first, gradual steps up the political ladder and toward carrying on his family’s political dynasty when he secured the Republican nomination for Texas land commissioner last month. The 37-year-old Fort Worth attorney is the grandson of former president George H.W. Bush, nephew of former president and Texas Gov. George W. Bush, and son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

“Most of the attention that I’ve seen is on him being a Bush and at the mid-statewide level, name recognition is everything,” SMU Director of Presidential History Jeffrey Engel said. “I think he is very comfortable under the spotlight, and I think voters are comfortable with him even if they don’t know anything about him or anything about his policies. Being a Bush is fundamental for his electability.”

Aside from the attention brought about by his pedigree, Bush is also heavily touted as the only Hispanic on the statewide Republican ballot. According to Engel, Republicans had Hispanics as a natural constituency up until six or eight years ago, but the rise of the Tea Party and its strong anti-immigration stance has negatively impacted how Hispanics view the Republican Party as a whole.

Bush, whose mother is from Mexico, speaks fluent Spanish and emphasizes how his campaign has made an effort to meet with Hispanic communities and even made several bus stops in towns along the Texas-Mexico border.

“We can’t just show up in these communities a few days before the election,” Bush said. “We have to build a meaningful dialogue and communicate with them in a bicultural way. Very rarely will you find a Republican campaigning in South Texas. This is something I’m very proud of and something I hope to continue to do.”

Often referred to as the Republican Party’s ticket to regaining the Hispanic vote, Bush says he will continue to go on more bus tours, make community appearances and do interviews in Spanish. Hispanic Republicans of Texas co-founder George Antuna says Bush has been well received by the Hispanic community.

“The Latino community wear their emotions on their sleeves,” Antuna said. “They are very big on retail politics. If you’re charismatic, willing to talk one-on-one with anyone and understand the language and culture, then you have the upper hand. George has that innate ability. He doesn’t have to go through training; it’s ingrained in his system.”

There was no incumbent running against Bush during the primary. With the help of his surname and a $3.5 million campaign fund, he was easily able to defeat East Texas businessman David Watts, who could not even afford to travel and campaign across the state.

The position Bush is running for is the oldest elected office in the history of Texas and oversees veteran loans, grants leases to oil and gas companies and manages environmental concerns and public school funding. Although it is responsible for many important duties, the down ballot position’s general obscurity has some people questioning Bush’s motives for pursuing it.

“The big question for him is: does he want to be land commissioner because that’s a statewide platform to show that he can pay his dues and move on to bigger and better things or does he actually want to be land commissioner?” Engel said. “I don’t know if the average voter or political pundit will believe the latter because he comes from a political family and this is the kind of position that one can get to acquire experience and credibility.”

Bush assures that he does want the position and has serious reasons for running for it. Aside from being a lawyer, he has also been a public school teacher, a reserve naval officer and an entrepreneur – jobs that have given him the background knowledge to address the issues he wants to reform.

“I’m an advocate for education reform in Austin and as a military veteran, I believe in honoring those who have served our country,” Bush said. “Most of all, I’m running because I’m worried about the future in store for my young son. I’m focused on being the best land commissioner Texas has ever seen and hope that voters will give me that chance.”

Bush also highlights how being a member of Generation X gives him the contemporary viewpoints and knowledge that would help improve the nation’s leadership.

“I fundamentally believe that Generation X is the first generation that will inherit a country in a worse condition than the generation before it because of a fundamentally broken leadership,” Bush said. “I’m running because I’m part of the new generation of leadership that understands the values that will help the country. Communicating those values to the next generation is what my campaign is about.”

Experts like Engel say that, so far, Bush has ticked all of the right boxes – his last name, Hispanic background, military service and political ideologies are all factors that make him a favorite to win the position.

“Texas land commissioner is a good stepping stone position, so the question is: where is he going to step to?” Engel said.

Bush does not hint on any presidential aspirations nor does he feel pressured by the expectations people are setting for him. For now, his focus remains solely on the position he is vying for.

only expectation is to pursue my dream and to pursue it the way I want to,”
Bush said. “Public service is how I’m pursuing that dream. Sometimes
politicians are willing to say anything to get elected. I have my own
principles: faith in God, being a family man and working harder than any

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