Ordinarily, a primary race in a state attorney general election wouldn't generate national news, but the fight brewing in Texas has significance far outside the Lone Star State.
The incumbent is Texas A.G. Ken Paxton (R), who was already under indictment on felony securities fraud charges when members of his own team made multiple criminal allegations against him. In December, FBI agents arrived at Paxton's door.
He's running for re-election anyway, but he'll have an intra-party rival from a notable political family. The Associated Press reported overnight:
George P. Bush on Wednesday launched his next political move: a run for Texas attorney general in 2022 that puts the scion of a Republican dynasty against a GOP incumbent shadowed by securities fraud charges and an FBI investigation.
In terms of the family tree, George P. Bush is the son of a governor (Jeb Bush), the nephew of a president (George W. Bush), the grandson of a president (George H.W. Bush), and the great grandson of a senator (Prescott Bush).
The key difference, however, is that George P. Bush, unlike other high-profile members of his family, has gone out of his way to ingratiate himself with Donald Trump, including endorsing his possible 2024 candidacy. Politico reported last week that the former president has noticed the Texan's sycophantic efforts:
"...George P. has played this exactly right, and he's definitely more conservative than his dad, and Trump knows that," said one Trump confidante who discussed the race with him recently. "But I can tell you the president enjoys the prospect of knowing how much it kills Jeb that his son has to bend the knee and kiss the ring. Who's your daddy? Trump loves that."
Yes, for the record, that is as creepy as it sounds.
The same article quoted another Trump insider who said the former president even has a pet name for George P. Bush -- "My Bush" -- and has publicly referred to him as "the only Bush who got it right."
Apparently indifferent to self-respect, Bush handed out beer koozies yesterday featuring an image of him and Trump alongside the "got it right" quote.
Jeff Roe, a Republican strategist and top adviser to Sen. Ted Cruz's 2016 presidential campaign in 2016, told Politico last week, "Everyone always thought George P. would carry the family banner into the next generation, but I'm not sure anyone anticipated it happening like this."
On the surface, Bush's tactics may seem obvious: much of the Republican Party is a personality cult in service of a failed former president, and those who want to win GOP primaries, especially in red states, feel the need to beg for Trump's backing.
But just below the surface, the relevant details are striking: George P. Bush is well aware of the fact that Trump has gone after his father, his uncle, and even his own mother, but the Texan is willing to put all of that aside to advance his personal ambitions.
There are other examples of Republicans remaining subservient to Trump after he targeted members of their family -- Rep. Greg Pence (R-Ind.), I'm looking in your direction -- but this is an especially awkward example of the phenomenon.
The result is a primary fight that's likely to be cringe-worthy. As The Atlantic's Adam Serwer put it, "The Republican primary for Texas attorney general is between a guy under federal investigation and a princeling of the Bush dynasty so desperate for power he would scrape and beg before a man who disrespected his mother."
Well, sure, when you put it that way, it doesn't sound great.
Time will tell who, if anyone, the former president ends up supporting in this race, but let's not forget that Paxton's record of Trumpian service is longer than his rival's: the Texas incumbent not only served as the chair of Lawyers for Trump in 2020, Paxton also filed the lawsuit that threatens to destroy the Affordable Care Act, and urged the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out election results Trump didn't like late last year.
If Bush is going to compete with a ridiculous record like that, he has a challenge ahead of him.