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February 16, 2013

George P. isn't sounding like a land commissioner candidate

  Ft Worth Star-Telegram

By Bud Kennedy

America needs a new energy policy, tax structure and education system, George P. Bush of Fort Worth told a luncheon audience Friday.

Let me ask:

Does that really sound like somebody running for Texas land commissioner?

Testing his campaign stump speech, the Fort Worth investor and school trustee also said Republicans "don't have to sell out our principles to win the Hispanic vote."

What he didn't say was whether he'll run for land commissioner or something higher, maybe against a current official.

That has Republicans like Precinct Chairwoman Jane Howell of Dallas worried.

"I don't want him running against Greg Abbott," she said over lunch in an Addison hotel, naming the attorney general and presumed Republican gubernatorial candidate if Gov. Rick Perry retires. "Don't make us choose between two good people," she said.

Before his speech for the Lewisville-based Institute for Policy Innovation, Bush told reporters he will decide before the Texas Legislature adjourns.

That's May 27, about the same time he and his wife, Amanda, are expecting their first child, a boy.

(Bush said he won't be named "George.")

Bush has been saying for weeks that he probably will run for land commissioner. Campaign treasurer Kit Moncrief of Fort Worth had raised $1.3 million at last report for a statewide campaign.

But on Friday, he told reporters only that he's "leaning" to a certain race: "This is not a decision to be made lightly."

If Perry retires and Abbott moves up, the attorney general's job is open.

But then, so is the governor's job.

Bush, a former high school history teacher in Homestead, Fla., is on the board of the Dallas-based Uplift Education charter system, which includes two Fort Worth schools.

Asked why a land commissioner candidate calls for a "complete revamp" of public education and describes it as the issue that "fundamentally draws me to state politics," Bush said the land office shares responsibility for school funding.

In his speech, he called for eliminating social promotion, toughening graduation requirements and freeing districts to operate more like charter schools.

"We're falling behind Western Europe, we're falling behind Singapore and Korea, so let's look at what's out there in the charter system," he said.

Former Dallas County Republican Chairman Bob Driegert was in the crowd.

"He's a bright, young candidate," Driegert said.

"Wherever he decides to run, I think he's a slam dunk. He can do whatever he wants."

And decide whenever.


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