George P. Bush has more than $2.8 million to spend on his campaign for Texas Land Commissioner. His two main challengers, a Republican and a Democrat, have a combined total of around $20,000.
Democrat John Cook, former Mayor of El Paso, reports raising about $13,000 since June. Republican David Watts's campaign finance filing this week indicates fundraising in the second half of 2013 of about $7,000.
Dr. Brian Smith is a professor of political science at St. Edward’s University in Austin. He says what the Bush campaign is doing is a tried and true intimidation tactic.
“He’s over-raising money to scare off any potential Republican challenger,” Smith says. “If I’m a Democrat I would be, like, wow, I have to raise $3.3 million just to match him. That’s going to scare me away. If I’m a Republican, I’m going to be like, gosh, he’s got a lot of money. Let him have it.”
Dr. Smith also says Bush knows enough Texas history to know that politicians have used offices like Agriculture Commissioner and Land Commissioner as a stepping to stone to higher places.
“Rick Perry being one of them. Jerry Patterson is trying to do that,” Smith said.
Current Land Commissioner Patterson is one of three prominent Republicans -- the others being Ag. Commissioner Todd Staples and State Senator Dan Patrick -- who are trying to unseat Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst in the upcoming Republican primary election.
Dewhurst said Thursday on the Texas Tribune’s TribLive webcast that if he wins another term, it’s likely to be his last. He spoke with Texas Tribune editor-in-chief Evan Smith.
“I expect this is my last term in office,” Dewhurst said.
“Expect or promise?” Smith asked.
“So, you’re not saying for certain you’re not going to run again if you win this time?”
“I don’t expect to run for reelection in 2018,” Dewhurst confirmed.
Dr. Smith says Dewhurst is considering his choices from a diminished number of options. "He has to look and say, what options do I have? And maybe retirement is his best option. You're only as good as your last election, and if you lose that election, that's your legacy."
The next election for Dewhurst and for George P. Bush is the Republican Primary on March 4.