George P. Bush pulled into town late Thursday, wrapping up a five-week, 40-city bus tour geared to spread the word about his campaign.
The 37-year-old with the famous name has been traveling around the state trying to reach voters in his effort to become the state’s next land commissioner.
“I’m running for the right reasons,” he told a crowd of about two dozen people gathered inside the Tarrant County Republican Party headquarters. “I’m running not because Barbara Bush, aka the Silver Fox, tells me that I have to do so because I carry the name George Bush.
“I believe that Texas is the best state in the best country that the world has ever seen … because we have the right conservative leaders.”
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Bush — son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, nephew of former President George W. Bush and grandson of former President George H.W. Bush — squares off against Republican David Watts, an East Texas businessman, in the March 4 Republican primary.
The winner of the GOP primary battle will face Democrat John Cook, a former El Paso mayor, and Libertarian Steven Childs in the Nov. 4 election.
Bush said he wants to be among the next generation of leaders guiding the state forward.
“Our state’s values are under attack. And this attack is being led by one man and one man only. His name is Barack Obama,” he said. “And now he has his ideological soul mate, in the name of Wendy Davis.
“The stakes in this race are so critical.”
Early voting runs through Feb. 28.
‘Working like an underdog’
State Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, greeted Bush when he stepped off the bus Thursday.
And he introduced him to the crowd, saying that he first got to know the land commissioner candidate when they both attended a fundraiser for Ted Cruz, who was then a U.S. Senate candidate.
“I thought this was a guy destined for public office, but he didn’t take it for granted,” Krause said. “He’s been on a bus tour for five weeks.
“He could have sat back, taken it for granted, … but he’s been working like an underdog.”
At stake is the Texas land commissioner post, an office held since 2003 by Jerry Patterson, a former state senator who now is in the GOP race for lieutenant governor.
The land commissioner oversees a broad variety of functions, including managing billions of dollars of state assets, investments and mineral rights, and serves as chair of the Texas Veterans Land Board and on a variety of state commissions and boards such as the School Land Board and the Coastal Coordination Advisory Committee.
Bush said education reform, energy policy and being “a steward for our veterans” are his top priorities, if elected.
“I’m fighting hard and I need your help to carry on this message,” he said.
Past land commissioners have sought higher office, including Republican David Dewhurst, who now serves as lieutenant governor, and Democrat Garry Mauro, who unsuccessfully ran for governor against Republican George W. Bush in 1998.
Watts has said the office is too important to just be a stepping stone for some politicians.
He has also been reaching out to voters, hoping to become the next land commissioner.
“David will be an outspoken champion for conservative solutions,” according to his website. “His view of the work of the Texas Land Commissioner is simple: this office must be governed by truly conservative principles and must then provide Bold Leadership for Tomorrow’s Texas.”
‘Own two feet’
A Spanish-speaking attorney and asset manager, Bush threw his hat into the ring last year in the Texas land commissioner race, with the blessing of his wife, Amanda Williams, a Fort Worth attorney.
He said when he entered the race that he wasn’t going to bank on his last name winning it for him.
“I said I was going to be a man who stood on his own two feet and provided his own vision for the state of Texas,” he said. “I think we’ve executed that game plan.”
Bush said he plans to vote on Election Day with his wife.