For George P. Bush, Wendy Davis, the future is now

Posted Wednesday, Jul. 10, 2013  Print Reprints

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kennedy I hate to break this to the rest of Texas, but the state’s political future now revolves around two lawyers from Fort Worth.

Either Republican George P. Bush or Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis — or both — will be near the top of a future state party ticket.

With the possible exception of San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, no other politician has such a national profile at a time when Hispanic and women voters will soon decide whether the state remains Republican.

For both, the clock is ticking.

Davis can’t wait 10 years for Democrats to rebuild.

And Bush can’t waste any time, in case they do.

“Davis is limited by the fact that her party is not yet competitive,” Southern Methodist University political science professor Cal Jillson said by email.

“Bush is likely to reach his political maturity just as his party begins to fade.”

Bush spurred talk of a 2014 gubernatorial race by filing paperwork and opening an unspecific “George P. for Texas” website, but he announced a bid for land commissioner, a traditional launching pad.

The attorney general position will open up Sunday if Greg Abbott announces for governor as expected. Little-known Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman is the only statewide officeholder in that race.

Bush or Davis, or both, might choose that race or risk it against Abbott for governor.

Political science professor Jerry Polinard has watched Texas politics for 40 years from the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg.

He might even foresee a Bush-Davis race at some level by 2018, probably no sooner.

“Bush can rely on family name recognition,” he said in an email, and “Davis can take advantage of her moment in the spotlight.”

But Polinard sees Republicans governing Texas until 2022. Bush would be 46 then, Davis 59.

Bush and Davis appeal as state and national candidates because both “symbolize their party’s future aspirations,” TCU professor Adam Schiffer wrote.

“Republicans are desperate to appeal to America’s emerging demographics, most notably young and Hispanic, and Bush is both,” Schiffer wrote.

“Democrats want to put more Southwestern states into play … Davis represents one of the best opportunities for Democrats to make Texas competitive, and doing so would put the Republican party in a desperate position.”

If Bush helps Republicans hold just 40 percent of Hispanic voters, the party will keep control in Texas. He is angling for religious voters, supporting new abortion restrictions this week in speeches and tweeted comments: “All children deserve the same protections, the same opportunities, the same chance to be children.”

Meanwhile, Davis is rallying women voters for next year and beyond with a statewide Planned Parenthood bus tour that stops in Fort Worth tonight.

It feels like 2014 is here already.

Bud Kennedy’s column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538 Twitter: @BudKennedy