Cowboy Doug

Doug Manchester rides the range of big-money political influence in Texas.
  • Doug Manchester rides the range of big-money political influence in Texas.

2013 was a very good year, politically speaking, for La Jolla developer and U-T San Diego publisher Douglas Manchester, who saw his top nemesis, Democratic ex-mayor Bob Filner, vanquished in a sexual harassment scandal. Then, shortly after Filner’s fall, Manchester and his fellow GOP Lincoln Club members launched an unprecedented hit-piece-and-newspaper attack that some say ended the mayoral hopes of Republican-turned-Democrat Nathan Fletcher and his backers at Qualcomm, founded by billionaire Democrat Irwin Jacobs.

Not so well known is the fundraising success Manchester has had here with one of his favorite Texas candidates, George Prescott Bush, the eldest son of ex–Florida governor Jeb Bush, brother of ex-president George W. Bush. Manchester threw a party in his super-exclusive “Headliners Club,” a well-appointed private watering hole at the top of U-T headquarters in Mission Valley for George P., who is running for Texas Land Commissioner, a powerful position in the Lone Star State that has been a stepping stone to higher office for many. Bush’s mother is a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Mexico, and Republicans hope he can help revive their standing among Latino voters.

Disclosure reports show that Manchester himself, who has struggled to line up financing for a big new hotel in Austin, was Bush’s biggest donor, kicking in a total of $12,178. Other heavy hitters included Kelly Burt, chief executive of Price Storage, and financial advisor Jorge Guerra, who both gave $2000 each. Linden Blue of Predator drone-maker General Atomics came up with $500, and Matt Romney, son of failed presidential candidate Mitt, gave $150. In all, $23,378 was raised here for Bush, who is getting mixed reviews at home. The Austin American-Statesman endorsed Bush’s GOP primary rival, saying, “In a weak field, we choose David Watts for land commissioner.” The Dallas Morning News had lukewarm praise for Bush: “Although his answers sometimes lack depth, he does have some solid ideas, like bringing in third-party auditors to ensure efficiency in the General Land Office.” Bush crushed Watts 73 to 27 percent in the March 4 primary, and is considered favored to beat Democrat John Cook in the general election.

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It's too bad Dougie can't just sell the U-T, pack up, and move to Texas.

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