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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, facing multiple scandals but hugely popular with conservatives for his legal crusades against President Biden’s administration, beat challenger George P. Bush by a more than two-to-one margin in of the GOP primary election runoff on Tuesday.
Bush, who was the last elected member of his family’s political dynasty – which over four generations has produced two presidents, a vice president, a senator, two governors and a congressman – has long been considered a rising star in the the GOP and was elected and re-elected to the state office of the Texas Land Commissioner. He acknowledged in a statement Tuesday evening that “things did not go as we had planned”.
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And in the wake of his defeat, Bush’s political future and the survival of his family’s brand are very uncertain.
“History has shown that there can be second acts in American politics, so I wouldn’t say never. Fox News longtime Texas-based GOP strategist Brendan Steinhauser.
And he predicted that in the short term “I think he’s more likely to go into the private sector.”
Matt Mackowiak, a veteran Republican consultant based in Austin, Texas and GOP chairman of Travis County, said, “You can never rely on someone who can raise money, but the political future of George P. Bush is uncertain. I expect him to complete his term. and return to private business as he contemplates his future. It is unclear when another member of the Bush family will be elected.
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Bush is the son of former two-term Florida Governor Jeb Bush, nephew of former President George W. Bush and grandson of the late former President George H. W. Bush, whose move to the Lone Star State in 1948 ushered in a new era in Texas. republican politics. The elder Bush won the Texas congressional election. He then served eight years as vice president before winning the presidency in 1988. His son George W. Bush was elected and re-elected governor before winning the White House in 2000.
The Bush family was the aristocracy of the GOP for decades, but the brand lost its luster after President George W. Bush ended his second term with approval ratings well into negative territory. And the Bush family’s well-documented war of words with former President Donald Trump during the 2016 Republican presidential primaries — when Trump repeatedly belittled, humiliated, and crushed rival Jeb Bush en route to the nomination — still has diminished the influence of the Bush family.
Trump’s victory in the White House in 2016 transformed the Republican Party. And the former president, 16 months away from the White House, remains the most popular and influential politician among Republicans.
While George P. Bush broke with his family and made a concerted effort to win Trump’s approval, the former president ended up backing Paxton in the attorney general’s showdown.
When asked if his last name was a hindrance, Bush told Fox News last week, “I think that really helps me. It helps open the door to conversation on the track… My family has always offered public service. It’s not about coveted titles or wearing fancy pins, it’s about doing the right thing for Texas.”
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But in an interview with Fox News, Paxton said last week, “I’m kind of on the way to the Bush dynasty plan, to move this guy to bigger and higher offices… It’s a reality. that he’s sort of the last and they had big plans for him to be probably governor or president of the United States and that was just a stepping stone.”
In his statement after his loss, Bush said, “I want to thank my mom and dad…and my entire family for all of their love and support.”
Asked last week by Fox News if he would have another political act if he lost to Paxton, Bush stressed that “I will still serve the Texans as Lands Commissioner for the remainder of this year. I was elected for four years, not three and one and a half years.”
As for what was to come next, he said “we’ll worry about it then”.
Bush’s crushing loss has spurred countless Bush dynasty obituaries.
Former New Hampshire Attorney General Tom Rath, a longtime GOP consultant who served as an adviser to the presidential campaigns of George HW Bush and George W. Bush, said, “I don’t think there is currently someone looking to the Bush family for a candidate or leadership right now.”
He noted that former President George W. Bush’s stature has grown since he left the White House more than 13 years ago, but “it’s not based on any political will he can impose. to the party. It’s just not there”.
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Rath said “the Bushes are largely not part of the [Republican Party political] conversation.”
And Mackowiak pointed out that “It’s been 18 years since George W. Bush has appeared on a ballot. The party has changed, the base has changed, and times have changed.”
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