May 31, 2022 - Politics & Policy

The fall of the Latino Bush

George P. Bush speaks at an outdoor campagin event while holding a black microphone in one hand and gesturing with the other
George P. Bush at a campaign event on Feb. 10, 2022. Photo: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg via Getty Images

George P. Bush, grandson and nephew of two former U.S. presidents and once heir apparent of a GOP dynasty, lost badly last week in his bid to become Texas attorney general.

Driving the news: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who faces criminal securities charges and an FBI investigation over separate corruption accusations, crushed Bush by more than 35 percentage points in a run-off despite the Bush family's long connection to Texas politics.

  • Bush is finishing his second term as Texas Land Commissioner and sought to take on the embattled Paxton, a close Trump ally.
  • Paxton has denied any wrongdoing related to the allegations made against him.

Flashback: George P. Bush appeared on the scene in 2000 when his uncle, George W. Bush, ran for president.

  • USA Today dubbed him a Hispanic cross between John F. Kennedy Jr. and Ricky Martin. People en Español magazine labeled him "hunky" and pronounced him a "buzz" among Latinos.
  • P, as he was known, made general statements in Spanish and spoke of his uncle's commitment to immigrant rights.
  • Some even suggested he could become the nation's first Hispanic president.

The intrigue: The son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Mexican-born Columba Bush, George P. Bush once espoused his uncle's commitment to immigrant rights but later adopted a harsher stance as the GOP shifted further right.

Yes, but: Bush would later tweet out a video of him having a friendly telephone conversation with Trump as he courted him for an endorsement. Trump endorsed Paxton.

  • In his campaign for Texas Attorney General, Bush spoke about a need for more border security and promised to help build Trump's border wall.

Between the lines: Bush was unpopular in part because of his family's reputation, according to a survey of Republican voters conducted in March.

  • Texas Republicans have shifted further right since the Trump presidency.

What they're saying: "Bush emerged from the experience not only willing to ignore his family’s defaming but ready to openly embrace its bully," Mexican journalist León Krauze wrote for the Washington Post.

  • "Bush’s ideological alignment behind Trumpism could be excused as a rather cruel case of political expediency. But there’s a more profound side to his transformation that cannot be so easily dismissed."

Bush said in a statement after his defeat that he "will continue fighting for the rule of law in Texas."

  • "I trust and pray in Governor Abbott's ability to control the southern border and work to ensure the system of justice and respect for Texas laws are honored and maintained," Bush wrote.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details on Bush's approval among Republicans.

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