iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush may be flirting with a presidential run in 2016, but it’s his son George P. Bush who has the more imminent deadline as he is running for Texas Land Commissioner.
The youngest politician in the Bush family is one of two presidential grandsons whose names will be on ballots come Tuesday as former President Jimmy Carter’s grandson Jason is running for governor of Georgia.
Jason Carter has had politics in his blood from both sides of his family, since his maternal grandfather was a Georgia state senator. After serving in the Peace Corps and becoming a lawyer, the ninth-generation Georgian served in the State Senate since 2010.
Friends say it is no surprise that his famous grandfather has been helping campaign with him, as Carter faces off against incumbent Republican Gov. Nathan Deal.
“They are extremely close and I would say if there’s any genetics in this, Jason has inherited all of the political genes from his grandpa,” said Peter Bourne, who served as President Carter’s campaign director in 1976 and a special assistant while in the White House.
Bourne said insiders have known that Jason Carter, 39, was going to follow in his grandfather’s democratic footprints for some time since “he was the only one in the family who clearly had an interest in politics.”
“He’s the oldest grandson so President Carter always sort of took a special interest in him,” said Bourne, who is currently a professor at Oxford University and wrote a biography of President Carter. “I have that sense that he hoped that would be the case, that he saw him beyond his own children and his other grandchildren that he was the one to make a successful political career.”
Former President George H.W. Bush told ABC News that his grandson’s foray into politics was somewhat expected.
“I wasn’t surprised because he had already demonstrated his abiding commitment to service through his time in the Navy,” Bush said.
“I don’t know if he got this from me, but ‘P’ is a loyal friend. So is his father, so maybe that explains that,” President Bush said, going on to describe his grandson as “candid, totally honest and hard-working.”
George P. Bush, 48, got his first taste of the national spotlight when he lead the Pledge of Allegiance at his grandfather’s 1998 nominating convention when he was only 12, and later, introduced his grandmother, then-first lady Barbara Bush, at the 1992 convention.
“It’s an overall positive for me,” George P. Bush told ABC’s Jon Karl of his family name. “But I said from day one of my campaign, 23 months ago, that I am a man of my own right, who stands on my own two feet with my vision. And I need folks to evaluate me based on what I bring to the table.”
Timothy Naftali, a historian and former President George H.W. Bush biographer, said that the decision to run for a state office like land commissioner comes as a part of a larger plan as well.
“It’s obviously considered a stepping stone,” he said.
“The Bushes are obviously sensitive to a sense of entitlement. Rather than running for Congress first, they’re having him establish his credentials as a political figure in Texas first,” Naftali said.
“The family very much wanted to promote George P. as a public figure, if not as a politician,” Naftali said of the move. “The family itself promoted him, so there’s a dynastic quality to the Bushes that we haven’t seen in a family since the Kennedys.”
Carter and Bush are not the only legacy candidates hoping for some favorable returns on Tuesday. Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, whose father Moon was the mayor of New Orleans and was the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, is in a tough re-election race just like Sen. Mark Pryor, the son of former Arkansas Gov. David Pryor.
“I think in the South people kind of like dynasties more than they do in other parts of the country,” Bourne said.
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