AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — George P. Bush, a rising star among Hispanic conservatives and the grandson of one president and nephew of another, has taken the first step toward seeking elected office in Texas.
But it's unclear what his next step will be.
The 36-year-old attorney from Fort Worth has filed a two-page candidate reporting declaration with the Texas Ethics Commission but didn't list which office he plans to seek. Bush did not return messages at his consulting firm Friday, and his campaign treasurer was traveling in Oklahoma and unavailable for comment.
Still, word of yet another Bush coming to Texas ballots was cheered by Republicans across the state, where party leaders are well aware that they will need Hispanic voters if they want to continue dominating politics here over the next two decades the way they did during the last two.
"It's a positive thing to have something besides old white guys like me on the ballot," said Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson.
A Democrat has not won statewide office in Texas since 1994, but Hispanics accounted for two-thirds of Texas' population growth over the last decade and now make up 35 percent of its population. Mitt Romney's failure to connect with Latinos is being cited as a reason for his defeat by President Barack Obama, who carried 71 percent of the Hispanic vote nationwide.
"I think George P. Bush is the future of the party," said George Antuna, who co-founded the Hispanic Republicans of Texas with Bush. "Whichever office he decides to seek, we will support him 110 percent."
Bush is the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and his wife, Columba, who was born in Mexico. His uncle is George W. Bush and his grandfather is George H.W. Bush.
George P. Bush speaks Spanish and has been active in politics for years. In August, he was promoted to deputy finance chairman of the Texas Republican Party.
The filing answers at least one question: Texas or Florida?
Bush grew up in the Sunshine State but met his wife Amanda while attending law school at the University of Texas. He later became a partner in a real estate investment company and has since started Fort Worth-based St. Augustine Partners, a business consulting firm.
As recently as September, Bush said he was being recruited to run for statewide office by Texas GOP brass. That same month, however, he launched a four-day bus tour of Florida to drum up support for the Republican Party among college students there.
"I know he has a passion for Texas. Texas is where his granddad lives, where his uncle lives and a lot of other family members," Antuna said. "He's always been a Texan. It just took him a little while to get here."
Democratic state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer noted that the Texas Republican Party platform supports English-only laws and opposes extending legal status to immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. He also said the party wants to do away with pre-kindergarten classes and the federal health care law, even though 65 percent of pre-kindergarten students statewide are Latinos and the health care overhaul would extend coverage to 3.3 million uninsured Hispanic Texans.
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