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Bush rising: he's the Latino heir of the Bush dynasty and is making his mark in Texas.

The office is en exercise of minimalism meets old-school deco, with some patriotism and classic Texas Longhorn ornaments thrown in the mix.

Somehow it befits George P. Bush, who is decked out in a navy blue two-piece power suit, light red silk tie, gleaming, dark-brown leather penny loafers tied with a gold clasp. On his desk sits a portrait of his wife, Amanda; to the right on a bookshelf rests three flags folded in triangular, military style within a trio of black wooden shadow boxes, while on the other side across his solid wood desk is a standing, metal desk.

Welcome to Bush's work sanctum sanctorum. From here, atop of the Stephen F. Austin State Building, located in downtown Austin, the heir of the Bush family and one of America's most well known political dynasties, oversees the Texas Land Commission.

Bush heads the office in charge of managing lands and mineral rights properties owned by the state, as well as helping fund public education. Some Texas political observers see the Texas Land Commission post as a steppingstone for the governor's office.

And from there, they say, who knows?

Top political observers believe that Bush, 39, is preparing the way for bigger political, maybe national posts. Some even say for the biggest office in the land.

In fact, some say that with his family history, name recognition (his father is Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida and likely presidential candidate) and with his Latino heritage (his mother, Columbia, was born in Mexico), Bush could really become --dare we say it?--the first Latino president. Not only that, experts insist, but with all those credentials, and yes, with the hunky looks and winning smile--gifts not to be taken lightly--Bush could genuinely be the unifying force so desperately needed in today's political landscape.

"Imagine? A governor from Texas, who just happens to be Hispanic, with name recognition and the most powerful fundraising machine in modern politics? Look out," wrote Doug Wead for Newsmax (Wead co-wrote the book, Man of Integrity, with George H. W. Bush).

In the meantime and despite his new state office, Bush seems more concentrated on his current position than national politics. With a dedicated staff, he has been toiling away on state affairs since January 2.

Unlike other Latino politicos who have talented Hispanics on staff but who often do not possess legitimate bicultural skills and lack a Latin American international experience, Bush seems to be choosing his people well and sending a clear message: That he takes Hispanics and his relations with Mexico and Latin America seriously. His Chief of Staff, J.R. Hernandez, who is originally from Leon, Guanajuato (Columba Bush's Mexican hometown) is a twenty-something, charismatic lad who boasts impressive bilingual and international skills, going from one language to another like a natural.

But does this mean that Bush's plans include a bigger office?

"Politics is not only in my blood. It is part of who I am," says Bush, flashing his picture-perfect smile.

Recently, sounding almost presidential according to political observers, Bush gave a state of the state address, in which he pointed out that his office is working to find new ways to protect the Texas coast, which is eroding on an average of 2.3 feet per year.

"We bring a special core expertise to coastal restoration," he said.

A match made in Guanajuato, a match made in Texas

The history of the man who for decades has had all eyes on him as a future national power player began in Mexico, specifically in Leon, Guanajuato. Located in central Mexico, the state of Guanajuato, in addition to being the home turf of the late classic ranchera composer, Jose Alfredo Jimenez, is known for its colonial era architecture--and its conservative politics.

It was in Leon, where an 18-year-old American aristocrat named John Ellis "Jeb" Bush--George P. Bush's father--was studying there in a program for a New England prep school, when he spotted a girl inside a car. With a Brigitte Bardot hairstyle, Columba Garnica Bush, standing just 5 feet tall, impressed the 6 feet 2 inch Bush so much that he often recalls that this was one of his seminal, life-changing moments.

"My life can be defined in one real, powerful way, which is B.C. and A.C.: Before Columba and After Columba," Jeb Bush often tells audiences, about his 1971 first encounter with Columba, at Leon's main plaza.

Columba was a student of Colegio Mayllen, an all-girls school. Though Mayllen is considered one of Leon's academies for upper-crust young ladies, Columba's family was poor, with some of her family members having to migrate north to the U.S. for work, including her father.

The ballad of Jeb and Columba, a well-known story in Leon and now slowly becoming a quasimythopoeic styled, Cinderella, national tale, reached a landmark when the future governor of Florida and perhaps presidential candidate and the "Leonesa" (as women hailing from Leon are called) married in February 1974 at the University of Texas' Catholic student center.

Originally an Episcopalian, Jeb Bush would convert to Catholicism. His eldest son, Bush, credits his mother's faith and values, she has met some Popes and is a dedicated Catholic, for being a guiding light.

"There's two major values that my mother communicated: strong faith and strong ethics. Whether it's the Catholic faith, but also to work hard. She's definitely a rock in my life," Bush says.

A Bush, through and through

Political rivals often point out how then Vice President George Bush referred to his grandsons, Bush and his siblings, while running for president in 1988, as the "little brown ones," (the grandfather quickly said in interviews that "this heart knows nothing but love and pride" for his grandchildren). But less remember that Bush, then just 12, actually pitched in his grandfather's race by speaking at the 1988 Republican Convention or that George H.W. Bush started his book, Man of Integrity, by introducing George P., in which some observers say that it seems like the former president is grooming his grandson for political heights.

Though many see a sort of master plan, a kind of royal passing of the torch to a tutored heir, Bush sees things differently, he says. He explains that growing up as a Bush, to him, was just the most natural thing, reminiscing that one of his earliest childhood recollections occurred when he was a four year old; his grandfather had announced that he was running for President (George H. W. Bush would lose the bid, but would be tapped by Ronald Reagan in 1980 to run as his Vice-President).

"That's really my first memory," recalls Bush of that era in 1979.

Born in Houston, Bush and his family would eventually move to Florida, he recalls. He would attend Gulliver Preparatory School in Coral Gables, where one of his classmates was future recording artist and also a second-generation public persona, Enrique Iglesias.

Despite all the hoopla of an American-style blueblood lineage, Bush's first job was as a janitor, he remembers. His father was into the other family business of real estate, so he thought what better way to learn real estate than by doing janitorial work?

"My first job was cleaning garages," he recalls. "I learned very quickly the value of a dollar, looking at your paycheck, seeing how much goes to the government and how much you get to keep."

After High School, Bush chose Rice University, a Houston-based school that is considered in the top 20 universities in the country. He elected it because it was closer to home and he was into baseball, a sport the school supported--Alex Rodriguez, the future baseball star, was his teammate.

"It was important for me to get into the right university," he evokes.

During the 1990s, Bush kept a low profile. But by the latter part of that decade, coinciding nicely with the spectacular Latino boom of that era--suddenly the demographics, the culture and numbers turned Hispanics into the minority group of the moment--the eldest son of Jeb and Columba Bush was at the right time and at the right moment. In 2000, People Magazine picked him as one of the 100 most eligible bachelors; it was also the year that he campaigned for his uncle, George W. Bush in his presidential bid.

With dark good looks and an infectious smile that seemed to intoxicate women, Bush was the new Latino sensation. Almost immediately, both the mainstream and Spanish press labeled him as the next political star, saying that the young Bush had practically every gift needed to become the future public figure to watch out for.

As the media covered his uncle's presidential campaign, they described the young P. Bush as an expert in "Hispanic and female outreach." Other publications dismissed him as mere "eye candy" without any substance.

In a New York Times story, an unnamed aide described Bush as "Ricky Martin, except better looking."

Still, he says that though public speaking and politics run in his blood, he was not obsessed with this. He was more into serving others, he says.

"You look at scriptures and they say that to he who is given, much is expected. I didn't have a fixation on entering politics. I had more of an interest through their guidance [his grandfather and other family members] and their leadership to look at ways to serve other people," he says.

An officer and a gentleman

On August 7, 2004, Bush's bachelor days came to an end, when he married Amanda Williams, a blond law student and classmate; she is now a Fort Worth lawyer. The ceremony took place at Kennebunkport, Maine, at an Episcopal Church.

So far the marriage has produced two children: Prescott Bush, 2, and John Williams Bush, who was born on April 13.

Along the way, Bush became a lawyer, joined the Navy and served in "Operation Enduring Freedom in 2011, in which his identity remained under wraps for security reasons while he served in Afghanistan. In addition to his patriotism, Bush says that serving in the military has helped shape his leadership skills.

Those skills were first tested in 2013, when he announced that he would run for Commissioner of the Texas Land Office, a post where some previous holders have gone on to work at the governor's office. John Cook, a democrat and a former mayor of El Paso was Bush's opponent.

"My opponent is working on his resume," Cook told the El Paso Times during the campaign. "I actually have one."

For decades, the Bushes--including Jeb Bush, his father--had a history of not winning their first political contests. "P" obliterated that family tradition by nabbing the Texas Land Commission post handily in 2014.

Regarding his new post, Bush says so far so good. But what concerns him now is doing a good job so that in case a bigger one comes his way--and he does not specify what--he can be ready and also count on voter approval.

Also on his list of things to do is to mobilize young people out of voter apathy. Then there are Latinos, who in the years to come will be a majority minority, he says. With big numbers also comes big responsibility, he adds.

On the first floor of the state building, Bush shows some reporters the countless files of the archive center. Here lie some files that date back to when Texas was still part of Mexico.

So what is his next step? What are his plans?

A Spanish speaker, Bush is personally teaching his children the language. He also wants to promote politics and civic responsibility within the Latino community.

But for now, he says, he intends to concentrate on his current state position. He wants to take things one step at a time.

He says: "Paso a paso."

George P. Bush timeline

1953--John Ellis Bush, the second son of former president George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush, is born in Midland, Texas

1953--Columba Garnica Bush is born in Leon, Guanajuato. Her parents are Jose Maria Garnica Rodriguez and Josefina Gallo Esquivel.

1971--A 17-year-old Jeb Bush spots Columba Garnica de Gallo in Leon, Guanajuato's main plaza, while she is sitting in a car with her sister and a friend. Bush claims that he instantly fell in love with her.

1973--February 23, Jeb and Columba Bush marry in Texas.

1976--George R Bush is born in Houston.

1977--Noelle Lucila Bush, Jeb and Columba's second child, is born.

1979--George H.W. Bush, George R's grandfather, announces his bid to run for president. George R Bush claims that is one of his first childhood memories.

1980--Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush win the White House (Bush becomes Vice-President).

1980--Jeb Bush Moves to Florida and begins working in real estate development.

1983--Jeb Bush Jr., the third child of Jeb and Columba Bush, is born.

1987-1988-Jeb Bush becomes Florida Commerce Secretary.

1988--Jeb Bush Resigns as commerce secretary to help his father George H.W. Bush with his presidential campaign.

1989--1993: Grandfather George H.W. Bush serves as the 41st president.

1994--Jeb Bush loses the gubernatorial race to Governor Lawton Chiles (D-FL).

1998--George R Bush becomes a public High School teacher in Homestead, Florida.

January 5, 1999-January 2, 2007--Jeb Bush, Republican Governor of Florida.

2000--George R Bush campaigns for his uncle's presidential bid.

2001-2009--Uncle, George W. Bush serves as the 43rd president.

November 5, 2002--With 56% of the vote, Jeb Bush becomes the first Republican governor to win re-election in Florida.

2004--George R Bush again campaigns for his uncle's presidential reelection bid.

2004--On August 7, 2004, George R Bush marries law school classmate, Amanda Williams.

2007--George R Bush joins U.S. Navy.

2007--Jeb Bush forms Jeb Bush & Associates, a consulting firm.

2012--George P Bush announces his intentions of running for a state office.

2013--George R Bush files papers to run for Texas Land Commissioner.

2013--On June, Prescott Walker, George P and Amanda Bush's first child is born.

March 2013--Jeb Bush's book "Immigration Wars," written with Clint Bolick, is released.

2014--George R Bush wins election for Texas Land Commissioner with 61 per cent of the vote, including 49 per cent of the Latino vote. He becomes the first Bush ever to win an election on a first try.

December 14, 2014--During an interview, Jeb Bush says that he will release 250,000 emails from his two terms in office as Florida governor and will publish an eBook outlining his governing philosophy.

December 16, 2014--In a Facebook post, Jeb Bush states, "I have decided to actively explore the possibility of running for President of the United States."

January 1, 2015--An aide confirms to CNN that Jeb Bush has resigned from all of his corporate and nonprofit board memberships, including forestry company Rayonier Inc., the board at Tenet Healthcare Corporation, and the board of British bank Barclays.

2015--On January 2, George R Bush takes office.

2015--On April 13, John William, the second child of George R and Amanda Bush, is born.

January 6, 2015--Jeb Bush launches a new political action committee that allows him to lay the groundwork for a presidential run.

March 11, 2915--Jeb Bush announces he is selling his ownership stakes in his remaining business interests: Jeb Bush and Associates, and Britton Hill.
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Author:Trevino, Joseph
Publication:Latino Leaders
Article Type:Cover story
Date:Jun 1, 2015
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