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The Brief: March 13, 2013

A day into his run for land commissioner, Republicans are already feeling bullish about George P. Bush.

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The Big Conversation

A day into his run for land commissioner, Republicans are already feeling bullish about George P. Bush.

On Tuesday, Bush, the 36-year-old son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and nephew of former President George W. Bush, officially launched his long-rumored 2014 bid for land commissioner, filing paperwork with the state and unveiling a new campaign video and website.

"If you believe, as I do, that Texas is truly an exceptional place with a rich heritage and a future of unbound potential, then I ask for your support as I run for Texas land commissioner in 2014," Bush says in the video, in which he (in addition to speaking over an instrumental version of a recent pop hit) explains his motivations for running and describes former first lady Barbara Bush's influence on his ambitions.

Bush, whose mother was born in Mexico, has excited GOP leaders eager to appeal to the state's growing Hispanic population and has already displayed some fundraising prowess. That combination, some Republicans say, could scare off any competition.

"He will likely escape a serious primary, while raising significant money, helping down-ballot candidates, growing the Republican Party and building his own statewide organization," Matt Mackowiak, an Austin-based GOP political consultant, told CNN. "His future in Texas is very bright."

A Texas conservative activist whom CNN did not name called the land commissioner bid a "slam dunk" for Bush, adding: "Remember, he supported Ted Cruz early and took a risk there. He's considered to be more conservative than his grandpa and Uncle W. I doubt anyone will even pose a real challenge."

Culled

•    For S.A. Democrats, Bird is the word (San Antonio Express-News): "Jeremy Bird, the former national field director for President Barack Obama and the driving force of Battleground Texas, could have picked anywhere in the state to begin the group's launch tour. He chose San Antonio not because it's the 'best city in Texas,' as Julián Castro proclaimed, but because … this is where the political firepower is located."

•    Austin among cities getting millions from online travel firms (Austin American-Statesman): "The city of Austin stands to reap millions from a class-action lawsuit against 11 online travel companies accused of underpaying hotel occupancy taxes, according to a lawyer in the case. San Antonio and 172 other cities, including several in Central Texas, sued 11 online travel companies, including Hotels.com, Expedia and priceline.com, in a lawsuit dating back to 2006. On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia of San Antonio entered a final judgment, setting the total damages, plus interest since a 2009 jury trial, at $55 million."

•    Breadth of FBI inquiries into Dallas DA Craig Watkins remains unclear (The Dallas Morning News): "The FBI has been investigating Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins for at least 20 months. But it’s unclear whether the latest flap over his actions in a fraud case is the sole focus of the inquiry or whether it’s something more."

•    Bill Would Exclude Elective Abortions in State Health Care Plans (The Texas Tribune): "The House Insurance Committee heard debate Tuesday on a bill that would prohibit the coverage of elective abortions in minimum state health plans, and would require women to opt into and pay more for abortion coverage."

Quote of the Day: "You've got people who are willing to compromise and who understand the beauty of compromise in our democracy, and then you have people like Ted Cruz and some of the others that just think that they want to drive as hard as they can off the right edge of the world." — U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., describing the Republican Party on MSNBC's Morning Joe on Tuesday

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