DALLAS – Just when pundits were writing the political obituary for the Republican establishment in Texas, someone throws a curve ball. George P. Bush says he’ll be the new deputy finance chairman for the Texas GOP.
On the surface, there’s nothing inherently contradictory about that. Bush, the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, endorsed Ted Cruz over Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in last week’s spectacular primary runoff.
Cruz’s come-from-behind victory dealt a blow not only to Dewhurst, but to Gov. Rick Perry and others in the party establishment who endorsed the lieutenant governor.
Cruz, meanwhile, had in his camp some of the most visible names nationally among the anti-establishment crowd, including Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum, Jim DeMint, Dick Armey and Glenn Beck.
Since the election, the assumption has been that Cruz supporters would eventually infiltrate and control the Texas party infrastructure.
But George P’s ascension within the GOP finance apparatus does not quite feel like an insurrection. As co-founder of Hispanic Republicans of Texas, he's worked within the system to try to broaden the party's base among a growing and influential democgraphic.
Bush, who lives in Fort Worth and co-founded a real estate private equity firm, endorsed Cruz but hasn't delivered broadsides against old-line leaders.
Yes, he actively campaigned for Cruz, using his Twitter account to urge followers to “Please join me in supporting my good friend Ted Cruz as heads towards victory.’’
But around the same time, Bush was promoting a second round of funding from MavPAC, a political action committee he co-founded. Who got the MavPAC money? One of the recipients was presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who is hardly a tea party favorite.
Romney has gotten the nod from George P. Bush’s uncle, former President George W. Bush, and grandfather, former President George H.W. Bush.
Neither of the elder Bushes plans to attend the presidential nominating convention this summer. But George P. will be there representing the new face of the Republican Party.
With his Latino ties (his mother was born in Mexico) and affinity for social media, he’s not your father’s Bush.
But happily for some, it looks like he’ll bring much of his political legacy – their deep-pocketed financiers – to the big tent.
Lori Stahl covers politics and culture from Dallas. Follow her on Twitter @LoriStahl.