Three generations of the most famous family in Texas politics are planning to descend on Houston in the coming days to rally with major donors to Jeb Bush's presidential campaign — and try to raise more money for the former Florida governor.
The weekend gathering, once billed as a "special appreciation event" for Jeb Bush's biggest financial backers, comes at a precarious time for his White House hopes. His campaign announced Friday it was making significant cutbacks, reportedly reducing its payroll by 40 percent, trimming travel costs by 20 percent and scaling back 45 percent on some other costs.
Jeb Bush's father and brother — former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, respectively — will be on hand over the weekend in Houston to thank the campaign's top bundlers. Also expected to attend are Jeb Bush's two sons, Jeb Bush Jr. and George P. Bush, the Texas land commissioner. Jeb Bush bundlers who raised a certain amount — at least $50,000 by some accounts — were expected to attend the gathering.
Jeb Bush's campaign is taking the opportunity to raise some fresh cash, starting with a breakfast Monday morning at the Houston Hilton Americas headlined by Jeb Bush and his wife, Columba. While Columba Bush starred at a fundraiser for her husband last month in San Antonio, the Houston breakfast marks the first time the two have appeared together in Texas. According to an invitation, the event costs $10,000 to co-chair, $5,400 to host, $1,000 to sponsor or $500 to attend.
On Tuesday evening, Jeb Bush Jr. and George P. Bush are scheduled to host a reception for Mission: NEXT, a program for young GOP bundlers they are leading. The event at Silver Eagle Distributors, the beer distribution company helmed by Jeb Bush bundler John Nau, costs $1,000 to co-chair, $500 to co-host and $75 to attend, according to an invitation.
Via email, Jeb Bush's campaign is also asking supporters to give $1 or more to be entered for the chance to travel to Houston next week and meet George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush. The campaign described the contest as a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you'll be talking about 20 years from now."
Taken together, the string of finance events serve as a reminder that Jeb Bush's fundraising machine in Texas is still heavily reliant upon a family network with deep ties to the state. The flurry of campaign activity in Houston comes about two weeks after Jeb Bush's campaign voluntarily released a list of its top 342 bundlers, 38 of whom are from Texas. They include many names already associated with the Bushes in the Lone Star State: former state Rep. Dan Branch of Dallas, Tyler oil and gas attorney Gaylord Hughey, El Paso real estate developer Woody Hunt, Houston pipeline tycoon Rich Kinder and his wife, Nancy, Texas congressman-turned-lobbyist Tom Loeffler, Fort Worth philanthropist Kit Moncrief and Warren Tichenor, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Jeb Bush is already planning his next trip to the state for fundraising. His campaign's bundlers were recently told he would be back in Texas to raise money on Nov. 16 in Midland and Dallas. Columba Bush and Laura Bush are set to headline a fundraiser the next day in Fort Worth.
Jeb Bush's campaign did not respond to requests for comment on the weekend gathering with his family.
Disclosure: John Nau and Woody Hunt's family foundation are major donors to The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.