George P. Bush Lifts Up GOP With Youths, LatinosMay 10, 2012
George P. Bush’s efforts to energize young conservatives around the country is starting to pay off in monetary bumps to some of Capitol Hill’s most prominent and established Republicans — and in Bush’s visibility within the national party.
The GOP rising star, 35, is on a mission to attract younger Americans, particularly Latinos, to politics in general and to the Republican Party specifically. To that end, he launched two political action committees in recent years: the Hispanic Republicans of Texas PAC and MAVPAC. The latter, short for “maverick PAC,” is aimed at young professionals and is now beginning to contribute its dollars to national Republicans.
For a party that analysts say is in danger of electoral erosion if it doesn’t cultivate these two large demographic groups, the young Bush — the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and the nephew and grandson, respectively, of the 43rd and 41st presidents — is trying to plug a hole.
“We’re really a bridge organization,” he said of MAVPAC, explaining that the operation is a vehicle to engage young people who may not otherwise be involved in politics and bring them into the GOP fold. MAVPAC has about 400 members, most of whom are between the ages of 27 and 30 and work in the medical, financial and legal fields. Many of them haven’t donated to the party before, but Bush’s goal is to start them small, asking for contributions in the neighborhood of $25 at regular fundraisers with GOP stars.
The Republican Party’s “traditional image,” Bush said, “is one that’s older and maybe out of touch,” and so his group is trying to change that.
Asked for his thoughts on President Obama’s newly announced support for same-sex marriage, Bush said, “I don’t have a position on it.” He added: “I’m not running for office. I’m a business guy. I haven’t given it great thought.”
Of course, he told the Texas Tribune in March regarding his political prospects: “I’d love to keep the door open. Politics is in my blood.”
If that proves true, he’s found a way to develop a national donor base that could expand and last decades — all created long before he’s even sought office.
Over the next few months, Bush and his MAVPAC co-founder, Jay Zeidman, plan to take their mission and their organization on a road trip to swing states like Ohio, Colorado and Virginia. What began as a state-based PAC in Texas in 2005 has grown into a national operation, and the pair has the simple goal of expanding and bringing more young professionals into the fold.
By Erin McPike
To do so, Zeidman said they intend to spend $1 million on social media this year simply to reach out to young people and get them interested in the GOP and their events. They also hope to participate in working sessions at the Republican convention in Tampa, Fla., this August, and they plan to throw a big reception on the penultimate night of the confab.
A conservative Republican consultant pointed out that there is one crucial difference between this effort and the party’s other token efforts to reach young voters, and that is the founder himself.
“Here’s difference: because of George P. and the Bush name, it’s got a sizzle to it,” this consultant said, pointing out that the party’s headliners are often unwilling to speak to groups of donors who have chipped in no more than $20 or $30. “But with George P., they can get to those folks,” he said.
In the first tranche of donations made April 30 by MAVPAC, the top recipients included Texas Sen. John Cornyn and Ohio GOP Senate candidate Josh Mandel, who is running to unseat Democrat Sherrod Brown. They each received $5,000 from the group.
House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock, Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, Georgia Rep. Tom Graves, Texas Rep. Quico Canseco, and New Mexico Senate hopeful Heather Wilson each received $2,500. South Dakota Sen. John Thune and Texas Rep. Michael McCaul got checks for $1,000.
More donations are to come, Executive Director Pasha Moore said. Due to the PAC’s rules, members (and not its leadership) chose the first recipients.
Erin McPike is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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