George P Bush is the young, half-Hispanic, grandson of the 41st president, nephew of the 43rd and son of a former Florida governor.
When he was elected Texas land commissioner four years ago, that background gave him a significant advantage as a fledgling Republican candidate seemingly on a fast track to stardom. Now, with conservative politics turned on its head by Trumpism, Bush is facing a tough primary election that threatens to doom his political career – and with it, bring to a close his family’s 70-year political dynasty.
The land commissioner job – which manages state-owned land – was perceived to be a stepping stone to higher office, but the evisceration of his father, Jeb, in the 2016 Republican presidential primary showed that as it lurched to the right and was seduced by sound and fury, the GOP was no longer in the market for a quiet moderate named Bush.
Though he has far more campaign cash than his rivals and has reportedly spent $2m in the past month,
Bush has run an anaemic – one might say low-energy – campaign, with scant media availability and no events listed on his website. He is still the favourite, but if he fails to get above 50% of the vote on 6 March – when Texas holds the country’s first primaries ahead of the 2018 midterms – he will face a potentially dangerous runoff.
“It’s quite possible that the Bush political dynasty, at least for this generation, could end in the spring of 2018 because if George P Bush fails to win the GOP nomination for land commissioner it’s tough to see him coming back from that any time soon,” said Mark Jones, a political scientist at Rice University. The dynasty began with Prescott Bush – George P’s great-grandfather – becoming senator for Connecticut in 1952.
Though Democratic turnout for early voting has soared this year compared with last time, no Democrat has won a statewide race in Texas since 1994, making the primaries all-important.
SOURCE: Tom Dart