Bill and Hillary Clinton’s new granddaughter captured the headlines this week, but two other presidential grandchildren may catapult to political stardom next month.
George P. Bush, the grandson and nephew of presidents, is certain to be elected Texas land commissioner on Nov. 4, a powerful potential stepping stone to higher office. In Georgia, Jason Carter, grandson of Jimmy Carter, is given an even shot of defeating Republican Gov. Nathan Deal.
Both under 40 – Bush is 38, Carter 39 – they are viewed as political comers in their respective parties.
The Texas land commissioner oversees millions of acres of state-owned land and mineral rights, big stuff in the Lone Star State. Bush has been criticized by some newspapers as light on substance, but will cruise to an easy victory next month.
Just a family day at the ballpark, Camden Yards, 1992.
The son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, George P. is a lawyer and Navy reserve officer, having served in Afghanistan. When he was 12, he spoke at the Republican National convention that nominated his grandfather, George H.W. Bush, for president. With the Bush name and connections, he’s easily raising millions of campaign dollars. He speaks fluent Spanish – his mother was born in Mexico – an asset in Texas and national politics.
With two Texans as possible Republican presidential candidates in 2016 – Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. Rick Perry – young Bush has said he will not endorse anyone even if his father runs for the nomination.
Jason Carter, a lawyer and state senator, is running a strong campaign against the Republican office-holder, emphasizing education. His grandfather, an object of criticism is some political circles, is very popular in Georgia; he’s the only president to hail from the Peach State. His 90th birthday Thursday was front-page news in Atlanta.
He is doing all he can for Jason Carter, specially in fund- raising. A recent appeal noting how “incredibly proud” he was of his grandson, declared that “even from a young age, Jason showed compassion, integrity and leadership.” The money is rolling in.
In May, the 39th president showed up in the Atlanta campaign headquarters and wanted to get right to the basics, asking for talking points and other ways to help. The real political force in the family, however, is the ex-president’s wife, Rosalyn. She gets the morning news clips every day, is briefed on polls and other political developments, and doesn’t hesitate to offer strong advice.
Jimmy and Roslyn, who’s 87, remain exceedingly active, and will be much in evidence on the campaign trail. Look for them in African-American churches: blacks could comprise as much as 30 percent of the vote in Georgia.
In another historical twist, the field director for the Democrats’ coordinated campaign in the state is Alex Jordan, 22, the son of Hamilton Jordan, who masterminded Jimmy Carter’s remarkable presidential run in 1976.
Albert R. Hunt is a Bloomberg columnist.