Pierce Bush, a grandson of late President George H.W. Bush, announced that he would run for Congress on Monday. The nonprofit executive will be running for Texas’ 22nd Congressional district in the Houston area, an open seat after Representative Pete Olson announced his retirement in July.
He joins a crowded Republican primary with a familiar name. Former President George W. Bush, who also served as governor of Texas, is his uncle. His father Neil Bush is a well-known businessman and investor and his cousin George P. Bush is the Texas land commissioner.
“We face a very challenging time in our nation,” Pierce Bush said in a Twitter video announcing his candidacy. “And on the brink of losing a generation to an idea that socialism and free stuff are the answers for their future. But we all know that socialism has failed everywhere and everyone.”
“It’s time for new leaders to stand for conservatism that empowers all Americans, placing individuals above governments and ensuring that we all have the freedom to achieve success in life.”
Republican Party of Texas spokesperson Sam Pohl confirmed the party has received Bush’s filing. The deadline for federal filings in Texas is Monday afternoon.
“I think the race is going to be tough due to the number of folks who have entered. It definitely proves the excitement Republicans feel ahead of the 2020 election,” Pohl said.
The Republican primary will be held in March. If no candidate gets more that 50% of the vote, there will be a run-off in May.
Bush’s competitors include Republican candidates like Kathleen Wall, who spent $6 million for a 2018 race in Texas’ 2nd District, and county judge Greg Hill.
“While I have great respect for the Bush family, I have strong doubts about any candidate who would try to parachute into our district and buy this seat,” said Hill, a former Border Patrol agent. “This is not West Houston, and unless you’ve actually lived here and worked here and raised a family here, you cannot begin to understand the issues we face.”
In addition to facing a primary where nine other Republican candidates have already filed according to the Texas Secretary of State’s office, three Democrats have filed and been raising money, including former foreign service officer and former Congressional adviser Sri Preston Kulkarni. Kulkarni came within 5 points of winning the seat in 2018 and has raised more than $800,000 for his 2020 bid so far.
Tight races like Kulkarni’s 2018 bid are indicative of how Texas has grown more competitive. Democrats point to changing demographics in the state and that six of the seats Republicans kept after 2018’s midterms were won by only 5 points or less. Incumbent Republicans in three of those seats have announced they would not seek re-election in 2020.
The thought from national and state Democrats is that this will create a very expensive GOP primary in March and draw it out into a runoff in May.
“While Republicans are battling it out and facing down the prospects of a long and expensive primary, Democrats are gearing up to take back the district and win in the increasingly diverse Fort Bend County,” said Texas Democrats spokesperson Abhi Rahman.
Pierce Bush had his name originally floated for the state’s 7th Congressional District, which his grandfather once represented. He is currently the CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star.
“For the past seven and a half years it has been my honor to work with dedicated volunteers who have invested their life in the lives of thousands of kids in Fort Bend, Brazoria and Harris Counties,” he said in his announcement.