By Will Weissert
AUSTIN, Texas — George P. Bush’s father has issued a fundraising letter asking donors to open their pocketbooks because his son “is considering” running for Texas land commissioner, though a political strategist for the younger Bush said Wednesday that no final decision has been made.
A rising star among Hispanic conservatives, George Prescott Bush is the grandson of one president and nephew of another. He made headlines last week by filing “appointment of a campaign treasurer” forms with the Texas Ethics Commission — the first step toward seeking statewide office.
The forms did not say which office Bush plans to seek. Political strategist Trey Newton would say only that Bush is mulling a run for land commissioner, attorney general or comptroller, most likely in 2014.
The letter from Bush’s father, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, suggested he had settled on land commissioner, which is often a stepping stone to higher office in Texas.
“The office that George is considering running for is Land Commissioner which oversees the mineral rights, commercial real estate owned and sovereign submerged lands of the state of Texas, as well as veterans’ affairs and historic archives,” he wrote.
The letter concluded, “What can I say? I am proud of my son. I hope you will write a personal check.”
But Newton later issued a clarification: “As Governor Bush stated, George P. is considering running for Texas Land Commissioner, however no firm decision has been made.”
“We have said from day one that George P. is looking where he can best serve the state and people of Texas which includes considering Texas Land Commissioner as well as Attorney General, Texas Comptroller and other statewide positions,” he said in an emailed statement responding to the letter.
“Right now, the organization is in an exploratory process,” Newton continued, “where George P. is travelling the state meeting with Texans about how best to serve.”
Bush, a 36-year-old attorney from Fort Worth, is a Spanish-speaker whose mother, Columba, is originally from Mexico. He is deputy finance chairman of the Republican Party of Texas. His uncle is George W. Bush, who was Texas’ governor before becoming president. His grandfather is George H.W. Bush.
Hispanics account for two-thirds of Texas’ population growth over the last decade and now make up 35 percent of its population.
A Democrat has not won statewide office in Texas since 1994, but Bush may want to see who else in the Republican Party is running before settling on a race.
Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst are both eying re-election runs in 2014. Perry has held the governor’s office since December 2000, and Dewhurst has been in his post for a decade.
That’s sparked a logjam among GOP statewide officeholders, many of whom are anxious to move up.
Attorney General Greg Abbott has raised $14 million, presumably to run for governor.
Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples have already said they will challenge Dewhurst, while Comptroller Susan Combs and state Sen. Dan Patrick are also expected to run for lieutenant governor.
If Perry decides not to seek another term as governor, then Bush will likely want to run for attorney general. But if Abbott stays put, Bush is expected to run for land commissioner while Patterson campaigns for lieutenant governor.