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Upshur's Watts running for General Land Office

By Glenn Evans gevans@marshallnewsmessenger.com
July 5, 2013 at 2:16 a.m.

<p>David L. Watts Jr., 46, has filed papers with the Texas Ethics Commission allowing the Upshur County resident to raise money in a bid for the GOP nomination for Texas Land Commissioner.</p>

A Northeast Texas technology and efficiency consultant hopes to do for the General Land Office what he does for companies nationwide.

David L. Watts Jr., 46, has filed papers with the Texas Ethics Commission allowing the Upshur County resident to raise money in a bid for the GOP nomination for Texas Land Commissioner.

Commissioner Jerry Patterson announced he will seek the lieutenant governor's position in the 2014 Republican primary.

Watts joins Presidential nephew and grandson George P. Bush in the Republican hunt to replace Patterson. The General Land Office oversees state-owned land which fuel the Permanent School Fund, manages veterans benefits and maintains the Texas historical archives.

"It is a fascinating office," said Watts, a 14-year resident near East Mountain who works for a North Carolina company that sends him around the country helping client businesses with technology.

"I help businesses become more efficient, more effective - kind of reinvent themselves," he said. "Companies fly me around the U.S., sometimes around the world. Why not bring that home and focus on this work? That (land) agency is sort of like a business for the government. It's got to organize and execute - that's what I do all day long."

The married father of three teens knows his early opponent has name recognition Watts cannot attain. Bush is the nephew of former President George W. Bush and the grandson of George H.W. Bush.

"For some that'll help (Bush), for some that will hurt," Watts said. "I think everyone should be gauged just on who they are."

Watts questioned the substance of Bush's early campaign.

"I look at his website, I don't see any real effort to articulate the sort of conservative work for land commissioner," he said, adding Bush's Facebook page is rife with offers of caps and such in exchange for a 'like.'

"Let's put out some conservative views, a vision of how that will effect the work of the General Land Office," Watts said. "No. 1, we'll win by articulating a conservative view of government. And, No. 2, we'll win this person-to-person, just county-to-county across the state. I was talking this morning with folks in El Paso."

Watts said Patterson has done a good job during his four terms, "from what I can see."

He took issue with the legislature for transferring responsibility for the Alamo complex in San Antonio from the Daughters of the Republic of Texas to the land office after the attorney general criticized its leadership.

"Let's give that back, let's have a shared responsibility," he said. "If I serve as the land commissioner, I would try to influence the legislature - let's try to restore it back, let's have a partnership."

Watts described a hardscrabble campaign, driving Texas' vast terrain during the coming year leading to the 2014 primaries.

"We'll head up to Lubbock (today)," he said, adding a trip to Cameron County at the state's southern tip is set next week. "So, we're starting the process of moving around the state."

He also plans to attend Saturday's, "Don't Tread On Me" tea party rally on the Gregg County Courthouse lawn. That event is set for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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