Don’t look now, but another George Bush is gearing up to run for office. George P. Bush, son of Jeb, is the cofounder of a new PAC and is serving in Iraq, all at once. Bush has co-founded an organization, Hispanic Republicans of Texas (HRT), to promote Hispanic-American Republicans in the state. Alongside partners George Antuna Jr. and Juan Hernandez, Bush is aiming to turn HRT into a vehicle to “recruit, elect, support and defend Republican officeholders and candidates for state and local elected offices.” The cause is a worthy and important one. A Republican candidate that was popular with Hispanics and the party base would be a force to be reckoned with — not just in Texas, but nationally.
Mr. Bush, who is himself Hispanic, presumably understands this. We would have asked him about his new organization except that when I called HRT to try to book an interview, I got a call back informing me that Mr. Bush had recently deployed to Iraq, where he is serving a tour as an intelligence officer in the Navy reserves. I did, however, speak to Mr. Bush’s friend and co-founder George Antuna. When I asked him if he or his partners had any political aspirations, Antuna didn’t rule anything out. “I ran at the state level in 2006. I am committed to HRT and pushing this cause totally right now, but I’m not going to rule anything out. I’ll let George P. speak for himself on that one.” said Antuna. He then added: “all three of us [he, Bush, and Hernandez] obviously have a political bug. But right now, we are focused on bridge building so that that we (Republicans) can draw a solid Hispanic candidate to run when opportunities present themselves against Democrats.”
Antuna told me that he, Bush, and Hernandez had been talking about founding HRT for over a year and that Tuesday’s launch needed to happen then, even though neither he nor Bush could attend. “It was going to have to launch eventually… we needed to do it now because we didn’t know whether George would be back from Iraq by November” said Antuna. Of course, Bush knew he was going to war a while ago. All the way back in October of 2009, he gave an interview to the Daily Beast’s Bryan Curtis in which he talked about his impending deployment and his plans to found HRT. In that story, Curtis writes that “Behind the scenes, Bush is co-founding Hispanic Republicans of Texas, a political action committee for which he will do the unglamorous work of recruiting candidates.”
“Unglamorous work” might be a bit of an overstatement. Bush, Antuna and company are looking to put Hispanic Republicans in public office. If they succeed, all of those candidates will owe their careers in part to Bush, Antuna, and company. If one of the HRT founders decided to run, you better believe these individuals would come to bat for them. The more GOP Hispanics that come into power, the more that will be around to back the founders when their time comes.
When President Bush’s immigration push didn’t lead Texas Hispanics to embrace the Republican party, Antuna told me that he and Bush came to a conclusion: “Republicans can write all of the pro-Hispanic policies they want. But until Hispanic voters see a Hispanic running as a candidate, it’s going to be tough for Republicans to attract Hispanic votes.” A Hispanic with degrees from Rice and Texas Law, a record of military service, backed by an organization devoted to making Hispanic Republicans players in Texas politics, and with the last name Bush? Sounds like the kind of candidate Mr. Antuna thinks might be able to win.
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