The General Land Office is one of the more obscure state agencies in Texas. But a man with a name that is anything but obscure deserves to be its next leader.
Being an heir to a political dynasty is often good reason to disqualify a candidate, but such is not the case with Republican George P. Bush. In fact, his political upbringing is an asset, equipping him with a sophistication few first-time office seekers possess.
His Democratic opponent, John Cook, 68, is a former El Paso mayor, Vietnam veteran and longtime civil servant with plenty of experience running large bureaucracies. He would seek to improve the accountability and transparency of the GLO, but he hasn’t run much of campaign.
Bush, 38, also a veteran and a former public school teacher, is not entirely in line with his potential predecessor, either. He supports a controversial Texas Supreme Court decision that protects the property rights of private landowners in ruling that the state’s Open Beaches Act may not apply if a hurricane or big storm wipes out the public part of a beach.
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Outgoing Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson has opposed the decision.
Bush’s heterodoxy doesn’t end there. He supports the 2001 law signed by Gov. Rick Perry, but unpopular in some conservative circles, that grants in-state tuition to undocumented students.
That issue is beyond the purview of the GLO but suggests that Bush, while a staunch Republican, will be a voice of reason and moderation with in the party.
During an interview with the Star-Telegram Editorial Board, Bush spoke of the “false narrative” between economic development and environmental protection. He would support reasonable drilling of oil and natural gas on public lands, while promoting responsible regulation.
But his passion is in education. As land commissioner, Bush would be responsible for managing the Permanent School Fund. He says he would use the office to advocate for continued education reforms.
Also running are Libertarian Justin Knight and Green Party candidate Valerie Alessi.
The Star-Telegram Editorial Board recommends Republican George P. Bush for Land Commissioner.