Jerry Patterson, a former state land commissioner who played a soldier of the Texas Revolution in the 2004 Hollywood version of The Alamo, starring Billy Bob Thornton, is launching a Republican primary challenge against George P. Bush. The biggest reason? He claims that Bush has mismanaged the Shrine of Texas.
Bush’s work to “reimagine” the Alamo plaza, such as moving a memorial to fallen defenders, has angered many conservatives, especially in the San Antonio area.
During Patterson’s tenure, the famous Texas battleground was transferred from the Daughters of the Republic of Texas to the land office, but Bush has been widely criticized for handing off restoration plans to private foundations. State legislators have charged that those non-profits have been secretive and have not released records for public scrutiny. Patterson, meanwhile, said that Bush set up these non-profits so that 70 employees wouldn’t show up on the state payroll, and he could continue claiming he’s a small government Republican.
Patterson decided to run only after failing to recruit a candidate to challenge Bush. “If you were to say that, you know, Patterson wants his old job back, you’d be wrong,” Patterson told me. “I don’t need a job. I don’t want a job.”
He explained that he was proud of the General Land Office when he left it, but claimed that Bush has damaged the agency “because of a formulaic Republican belief that ‘I will be a small government Republican, and I’m going to cut the budget.’” For example, he continued, Bush has dismantled the hurricane response team that Patterson created, which has led to delays in the state obtaining housing from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for people displace by Hurricane Harvey.
Bush campaign manager Ash Wright issued a broad defense of his boss. “Commissioner Bush is arguably the most conservative Land Commissioner in Texas history. Commissioner Bush has reduced the size of the GLO, implemented zero-based budgeting, improved services and increased benefits for veterans, used his platform to champion school choice and the sanctity of life, and worked to save the Alamo,” Wright said in an email. “He is proud of his conservative record. And he is working hard to produce even more conservative victories at the GLO.”
Patterson joins two other challengers to Bush: amateur Alamo historian Rick Range and a land surveyor named Davey Edwards. Austin-based oil and gas attorney Miguel Suazo is the only Democrat to have filed so far.
Ironically, the primary election will fall on March 6, the 182nd anniversary of the fall of the Alamo, when revolutionary defenders were overtaken by Mexican troops led by Santa Anna.