WILL WEISSERT, Associated Press
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — George P. Bush seems all but certain to be elected Texas land commissioner on Tuesday, an accomplishment that would make him the first in his family’s political dynasty to win his first election.
Bush, a 38-year-old Fort Worth attorney and energy consultant, has raised more than $3 million against his little-known Democratic opponent, former El Paso Mayor John Cook, and Republicans haven’t lost a statewide office since 1994.
Bush is the grandson of former President George H.W. Bush and nephew of President George W. Bush. His father, Jeb, is a former Florida governor who is considering a White House run in 2016. But none of them — nor the family patriarch and source of George P.’s middle name, long-serving Connecticut Sen. Prescott Bush — won their first races.
His grandfather lost a U.S. Senate race in Texas in 1964, while his uncle lost his 1978 congressional bid. Jeb Bush wasn’t elected Florida governor until his second try, and Prescott Bush, George P.’s great-grandfather, came up short in his first Senate race in 1950.
The Texas land commissioner advocates for military veterans while administering the state’s publicly held lands and overseeing mineral rights for oil and gas concerns. The office also controls revenues from that booming sector that feed the Permanent School Fund, which helps pay public education costs — and which recently surpassed Harvard University’s as the nation’s largest educational endowment.
The office has in the past led to loftier posts. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst was land commissioner before taking over the job he’s held since 2003.
George P. Bush says he’s focused on the land commissioner’s office because it best fits his qualifications. He once taught school in Miami, and he served an eight-month tour in Afghanistan with U.S. Naval Intelligence under an assumed name.
Bush’s mother Columba is from Mexico and he’s fluent in Spanish. Many of Texas’ top Republicans view him as key to courting the state’s growing Hispanic population.
Bush acknowledges the GOP has historically failed to reach out to young people and Hispanics, but likes to quip, “Those are two groups I know something about. In fact, I am those two groups.”