AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The only member of the Bush family currently holding elected office isn’t worried about his political future being threatened by a rejection of dynasty politics that may have helped doom Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush campaigned for Donald Trump as chairman of his state Republican Party’s victory committee, despite his family’s well-publicized shunning of the billionaire businessman. Bush says Trump’s success repudiating politics-as-usual won’t make it harder for a member of one of America’s best-known political families to succeed in upcoming elections.
“I think, through my activities serving as victory chair and further positions that I took, it further shows that I’m my own man,” Bush said in a phone interview Thursday. “My family understands that more than anybody.”
Some voters saw Clinton as too politically entrenched as a former secretary of state, senator and first lady. Bush agreed that Trump “has disrupted American politics” but said people “vote based on the individual.”
Bush plans to seek re-election in 2018 as land commissioner, which manages Texas’ 13 million acres of public lands and mineral rights for oil and natural gas exploration.
Bush’s father, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, was among the crowded Republican presidential primary field crushed by Trump. George P. Bush initially hesitated to embrace Trump, but eventually traveled Texas praising him while helping raise $1.5 million for the state Republican Party.
His family never came around, though. Bush’s uncle, former President George W. Bush, didn’t cast a presidential vote. His grandfather, George H.W. Bush, won’t discuss his vote.
But on Wednesday, both former presidents congratulated Trump by phone and Jeb Bush did via Twitter.
A fluent Spanish speaker whose mother is from Mexico, George P. Bush said Trump’s non-politically correct rhetoric won’t make Republican values a tougher sell for Hispanics. He noted that Eva Guzman, a Hispanic Republican justice on Texas’ Supreme Court, got more votes in the state Tuesday than any candidate including Trump.
Trump beat Clinton by 9 percentage points in Texas, the first time a Republican hasn’t coasted to double-digit victory statewide since 2000. But Bush noted that Trump received 4.6 million-plus votes statewide, more than any Republican presidential nominee since at least 1992.
Texas had a record 15.1 million people registered and a record 8.8 million cast ballots, but that’s still only about 43 percent of all eligible voters statewide.
Bush said he hadn’t spoken with any relatives since Election Day but would likely see them during the holidays.
“I respect their decision,” he said. “They’ve earned the right to have their opinion, and I have mine.”
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