AUSTIN -- For many Williamson County Republicans, Monday was a chance to meet a new face with a familiar name.
"I think on a net-net basis, being a Bush is a positive here in the State of Texas," said George P. Bush, speaking with KVUE after a campaign stop in Round Rock hosted by the Williamson County Republican Women. "The advice more than anything else matters most."
The son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, nephew of President George W. Bush and grandson of President George H. W. Bush, 37-year old George Prescott Bush is now taking his first shot at public office.
"Who wouldn't draw upon the great advice of my family as it relates to state politics?" asked Bush. "So they're a part of my campaign, but I'm a man in my own right. I've got my own record that I've been talking with Texas voters about for the last ten months, and trying my best to cover all aspects of Texas. And your next Texas land commissioner really needs to be a representative for all Texans, not just the few."
A graduate of Rice University and the University of Texas School of Law who has spent time working for both energy and real estate interests, Bush says running for Texas land commissioner made sense.
"Asset management is the core function of the office, managing mineral rights and commercial real estate, which I've been doing here in Central Texas and North Texas for some time," said Bush.
The functions of the Texas General Land Office include managing the Permanent School Fund, comprised of interest earned from oil and gas revenue on state land and set aside for public schools. Before entering law school, Bush worked briefly as a teacher in Florida. He shares his father's support for charter schools and education reform.
"On the financial side, I've always thought that we could do a lot more in terms of reforming and reduce a lot of cost and inefficiencies," said Bush. "And the Permanent School Fund, in addition to the Permanent University Fund, allows the next land commissioner to really weigh in on the subjects."
The land office also oversees the Veterans Land Board, which makes certain types of loans and assistance available to Texas veterans. A Navy reservist, Bush says veterans are his number one issue on the campaign trial.
"I talked about in my remarks today that the rate of suicide now in our veterans community here in the State of Texas exceeds any other cause of death in the military," said Bush. "Secondly, we've got to do a better job of rallying public sector and private sector interests to get veterans the jobs for tomorrow so that they can achieve the American dream. Work hard, look out for our battle buddies. That's the least we can do for them in light of what they've done for us."
Former El Paso Mayor John Cook has announced his intention to run for land commissioner as a Democrat, but Bush's greatest opposition could come from groups like Battleground Texas working behind the scenes to drive out young and Hispanic voters for Democrats. Bush, whose mother is originally from Mexico, is also Hispanic.
"I along with other Republicans have said that these groups are not to be underestimated," said Bush. "I think what they're trying to do is more long term in terms of engagement and registering new voters and more broadly looking at younger voters as well. In terms of what I'm doing and what other candidates are doing, we're making a better effort than in years past to reach out to Hispanics. And we feel that with our value system and a tactical reengagement with the community we can do a better job than what we've done in the past."
Many in the Texas GOP are looking to the young Bush, who co-founded the outreach group Hispanic Republicans of Texas, to carry the Republican banner forward in the face of shifting demographics. Asked whether he feels a pressure to become the face of the party as it looks to win over a critical portion of the electorate, Bush says the current contest is first in his mind.
"I think I can play a small part in helping to reach out to younger voters and Hispanic voters. I've always said, as you know, that our party has always needed to reach out more to these demographic groups, and I think it's always better to get ahead of the curve as opposed to waiting for change to happen," said Bush. "So if I'm called a leader, that's wonderful, but I've got to focus on my race for Texas land commissioner and then help to build the party as well."