A Tale of Two Bushes: One Runs on His Name, the Other … Not So Much

(AP Photo | Getty Images)

You might say George P. Bush, the newly-minted Republican nominee for Texas Land Commissioner, is making a name for himself in politics.

George P. Bush, grandson of former President George H. W. Bush and son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, swept Tuesday's statewide primary and is expected to easily win the general election in November.

Minutes after the polls closed, George P. Bush's famous grandfather - his namesake - dedicated his 11th tweet to his grandson:

Some say George P. Bush's experience as an attorney and an investor is what qualifies him for the position, which entails managing billions of dollars in mineral rights. Others say his surname is his real asset.

But one thing is for sure: His name plays well in the Lone Star State, and George P. Bush is making the most of it.

In Texas, the Bush name graces an airport in Houston, a turnpike in Dallas, two elementary schools, a high school, a courthouse, a library, the owner's box at Rangers Ballpark and a special species of bluebonnet, the Texas state flower. Even Bush Sr.'s dogs have their own Houston-area public park.

Though his former Republican challenger, David Watts, attempted to turn public sentiment against the so-called Bush "dynasty," George P. Bush told the Associated Press in July that "it's legacy that I embrace and that I'm not going to run away from."

Already hailed as "the next big thing" in the GOP, Bush has subtly tried to differentiate himself from his famous grandfather, father and uncle. He calls himself a "movement Republican" and says he identifies with the tea party more than the more mainstream Republican base.

But his campaign continues to profit from his family's connections.

Many of his early donors - including former White House deputy chief of staff Joel Kaplan, and Karl Rove assistants Barry Jackson and Kirk Blalock - were former staffers in the George W. Bush White House. With their help, George P. Bush managed to raise more than $3.5 million, enabling him to outspend his GOP primary challenger by millions.

Perhaps because of his last name, George P. Bush's campaign has garnered unprecedented attention - especially for a relatively low-profile position.

The Bush name may play locally, but nationally, recent polls have shown that Americans have Bush fatigue, which may explain why George P. Bush's father, Jeb Bush, seems to see it as a potential stumbling block to any national political aspirations.

"It's an issue, for sure," the former Florida governor, who could be a candidate for president in 2016, acknowledged recently.

"I get the point," Bush told a New York political gathering last month. "It's something that, if I run, I would have to overcome that."

From a national perspective, a Jeb Bush candidacy - and, by extension, presidency - could be seen as a continuation of his brother's White House years, essentially a third Bush term.

Though George W. Bush's approval ratings have ticked up recently (from 33 percent when he left office to 47 percent in December 2013) consternation about his handling of the economy remains, according to recent ABC polling. Fifty-three percent of Americans disapprove of his economic maneuverings.

Even Jeb Bush's mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, has her doubts. Last year, she declared that there have been "enough Bushes" in the White House.

"He's, by far, the best qualified man, but no, I really don't [want Jeb to run]. I think it's a great country, there are a lot of great families and it's not just four families, or whatever," Barbara Bush told NBC's Matt Lauer in April 2013. "There are other people out there that are very qualified."

"I always listen to my mother. I don't always follow her advice," Jeb Bush responded.

However, the Bush family matriarch may be reconsidering. This week, she said, "Maybe it's OK" if Jeb Bush runs.

When it comes to his future political plans, Jeb Bush may not have an overly enthusiastic mother, but he's definitely a doting father, lending his own Bush-branded seal of approval to his son's win this week: