It looks like George Prescott Bush may continue his family’s political legacy…
The 36-year-old half-Mexican American attorney says he’s close to settling on campaigning for the position of Texas Land Commissioner next year. He doesn’t believe he’ll make up his mind until he knows what Texas Governor Rick Perry, a fellow Republican, decides to do.
“We for sure are running, the question is the office,” Bush told The Associated Press during the first interview about his political future since filing paperwork in November to seek elected office in Texas.
Bush’s father is former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, his grandfather is former President George H.W. Bush and his uncle is former President and Texas Governor George W. Bush. Perry has been governor since George W. left for the White House.
The land commissioner position has traditionally served as a steppingstone to higher office, but Bush said little about any plans to eventually become a national political force.
Instead, Bush spoke about how his past experience as an asset manager would help him manage the Permanent Schools Fund, which pays for public education and is managed by the land commissioner. He also said his perspective as an Afghanistan war veteran will help him use the post to become a leader in veterans’ affairs.
Bush said he would announce his final decision after the Texas Legislature adjourns in May but added that his choice will depend “where the governor’s thinking is.” Perry, who made an unsuccessful run for the Republican nomination in the race for president, remains popular in Texas, and he’s planning to reveal this summer if he’ll seek another term.
Some have speculated that Bush could challenge Perry for governor — and even if he doesn’t, what Perry decides will trigger political dominos falling.
Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson plans to run for lieutenant governor next year, creating a vacancy in his office. But Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican, may himself run for governor in 2014, meaning his post could be open too.
Bush suggested he’d be willing to wait his turn politically rather than immediately seeking top positions coveted by others in the state GOP.
“We’ve said that we want to be team players in the party, providing a younger, fresher vision for our values,” he said.
Bush speaks Spanish, and his mother Columba is from Mexico. Conservatives view George P. Bush on the ballot as a way to solidify support among Hispanics.
A Democrat hasn’t won statewide office in Texas since 1994, but Hispanics tend to vote overwhelmingly Democratic and accounted for two-thirds of Texas’ population growth over the last decade. Bush noted: “We’ll be majority Hispanic in six years.”
“I don’t necessarily agree with the idea that having a candidate of Hispanic origin, or someone who can speak Spanish, can automatically obtain these votes,” Bush said of Hispanics. “Having said that, it’s important tactically to have candidates that understand issues of the community.”
Bush said of trying to stand out among his famous political family, “It’s always been the thing of my grandmother to say, ‘Go out and make a name for yourself’ and that’s something that I’ve followed.”
“But who better to ask for advice on politics than two former presidents and a former governor?” he said. “They’re not involved in the day-to-day operations. They’re not involved in formulating my ideology. It’s more of an informal advice.”
Bush said his grandfather inspired him to join the military, and he was deployed to Afghanistan as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Naval Reserve. He said that before enlisting, he knew politics was in his blood but felt he was too inexperienced to run for office.
It wasn’t until the last few months, however, that “I felt it was time for my generation to step forward in state politics,” Bush said.
Bush now spends his time crisscrossing Texas and the country, raising money and meeting with supporters. He was in Austin on Monday and posed for pictures outside the state Capitol before disappearing into meetings with legislators.