George P. Bush Pushing GOP's Hispanic Outreach

George P. Bush, a founding member of the Hispanic Republicans of Texas, at the Austin Club on March 1, 2012.
George P. Bush, a founding member of the Hispanic Republicans of Texas, at the Austin Club on March 1, 2012.

WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. — George P. Bush, nephew and grandson of two former presidents, is stepping up his efforts to drive more Hispanics into the Texas Republican Party.

Party officials said Wednesday they are planning to make Bush a deputy finance chairman at their next meeting in September. An alternate delegate who lives in Fort Worth, Bush told Texas Republicans he will keep his focus on getting more Latino Republicans elected in Texas so the GOP can remains the state’s dominant party as the Hispanic population explodes.

“We’re rolling up our sleeves and doing the dirty work in Hispanic outreach and we’re going to be collaborating with the Republican Party helping to identify, recruit and support qualified candidates to go run for office,” he said at a meeting of Texas delegates to the Republican National Convention.

Bush, whose mother was born in Mexico, remained coy about his own political ambition, saying he wasn’t running for anything yet.

“Not right now. The plan is to help out,” he said.

Bush said the recent primary victory of Ted Cruz, vying to become the first Hispanic senator from Texas, is a great recruiting tool.

“To have a young, energetic and enthusiastic Hispanic as our party’s nominee for the U.S. Senate means a lot,’’ Bush said. “I think it speaks to the direction of the party. I think it speaks to the future of the state of Texas and … he’s willing to throw a punch or two to fight for our conservative values.”

The elevation of Bush to a leadership role is part of a broad effort by the party to reach out to Hispanics. If the party doesn’t increase its percentages among Hispanics, Democrats could again ride to dominance as Latinos — now 38 percent of the Texas population — grow in number.

Some projections show they will make up a majority of the population within eight years.

Under the direction of Republican Party Chairman Steve Munisteri, the Texas GOP has increased its Latino recruitment efforts.

The party hired a fluent Spanish speaker, David Zapata, as its minority outreach coordinator, a first for the Texas GOP, according to spokesman Chris Elam, who is also half Hispanic. Officials also conducted outreach to increase the number of Hispanic delegates to their convention, and about 700 of the 9,000 delegates to the state convention in Fort Worth were of Latino descent, Munisteri said. Four of the 24 new members of the State Republican Executive Committee also are Hispanic.

More recently, Munisteri is undertaking a new project to identify GOP-leaning Hispanics in Texas by cross-referencing consumer data and voter rolls to find conservative Latinos who they can recruits as Republican voters.

Democrats say the outreach efforts will fail because the policies Republicans pursue are inherently harmful to Latinos. Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, said Hispanics don't like education cuts or proposals to privatize popular government entitlement programs, and generally favor  giving U.S. residency to young immigrants brought here illegally by their parents.

“There is a clear distinction between actions and words. The Republicans talk a great game about being inclusive, but when you look at their actions, these are people with a straight face [who] will cut education and public health by $10 billion,” he said. "[Latinos] know when they're being hoodwinked."  

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