Friday, November 16, 2012

Republicans' rising star

Politics |
A new candidate with a familiar name announces plans to run for office
In this Monday, Sept. 24, 2012, file photo George P. Bush, right, stands with his uncle former President George W. Bush, left, during the Bush Center Warrior Open in Irving, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

George P. Bush doesn't need to make a name for himself. As a fourth-generation politician with an uncle and grandfather who both served as U.S. president, all he has to do to create buzz is file campaign paperwork.
Bush's name filled internet news feeds on Wednesday after he filed paperwork in Fort Worth, Texas, appointing a campaign treasurer. Under Texas law, any candidate who intends to run for statewide office must appoint a treasurer before they can do anything else. Although the paperwork does not specify what office Bush may seek, the filing didn't come as a complete surprise to people watching his budding political career.
Bush, 36, sits near the top of TIME Magazine's "40 under 40" in politics list for more than just his relationship to George W. Bush, his uncle, and George H.W. Bush, his grandfather. He's labeled a rising star in American politics because he's seen as a future, out-of-the-box Republican candidate. The youngest Bush politician could potentially fill the big gaps that caused the GOP's presidential loss last week - the youth and Hispanic vote, which favored President Barack Obama by 67 and 71 percent, respectively.
Bush is the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Mexican-born Columba Bush. He speaks fluent Spanish. During his uncle's 2000 presidential campaign, he helped attract young and Latino voters by starring in Spanish campaign ads and taking the campaign message to high schools and some college campuses.
Although raised in Florida, Bush attended law school at the University of Texas at Austin and settled in Fort Worth with his wife Amanda. Bush has worked as a lawyer and real estate investor and started a consulting firm aimed at small- and medium-market energy industries. The young Bush also served in the Navy, including a six-month deployment in Afghanistan, where he held a fake name for his safety.
After his uncle's first election, the politician-in-training continued to be active in Republican Party outreach to college students through heavy involvement with MAVPAC. The political action committee consists of young professionals that support political candidates who are in-tune with the concerns of young voters, a demographic that covers 19 percent of the American electorate.
Bush's Mexican heritage plays well with younger voters. The millennial generation is the most diverse in U.S. history, according to a 2010 Pew Research Center study, and at least 20 percent Hispanic. His heritage also could help make him popular among Hispanic voters, especially when paired with his moderate tone on immigration and his support for Hispanic political candidates. The political action group Hispanic Republicans of Texas, which Bush co-founded, helps Hispanic candidates get elected.
As a supporter of Gov. Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, Bush tried to win Hispanic votes for the GOP this year but could not overcome Romney's unpopularity in Latino communities.
Bush's involvement with Romney's campaign - which alienated the Latino community - has made some commentators wary of his future political career. State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, a Democrat, told the Associated Press that the Texas Republican platform opposes many things that are crucial to gaining the Hispanic vote, including legal status for child immigrants and federal health care. Fischer bets that the Texas GOP will end up changing Bush, rather than him becoming the change that the Texas GOP desperately needs.
The total Latino vote reached 10 percent of the electorate this election. It has been labeled the fastest growing segment of American voters and a power player in U.S. politics. This new demographic is a major problem for hard-line conservatives, who may have to reconsider their stand on immigration reform to win enough votes to regain the White House.
"If we do not become the movement of younger Americans and Hispanic Americans, and any number of other Americans, then we will just become a retirement community," Al Mohler said of conservatives and evangelicals during an NPR News interview after last week's election.
Bush said in September that he intended to run for office and that he had his eyes on several statewide positions, according to the Associated Press. Political pundits speculate that if current Texas Gov. Rick Perry seeks another term in 2014, Bush might run for land commissioner. If Perry decides to leave office to run in the 2016 presidential election, Bush might be more likely to run for attorney general. But he could bypass the crowded Texas GOP ladder altogether and head straight for Washington, following newly elected Sen. Ted Cruz's example
The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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