Will Jeb Run?

posted at 11:40 am on December 27, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Jeb Bush ran Florida for two terms as Governor, leaving office with astronomic approval ratings, which makes him by far and away the Republican Party’s best bet to hold the Senate seat being vacated by Mel Martinez’ retirement.  But will Jeb Bush feel comfortable as a legislator rather than an executive?  And will his family name wind up being a hindrance as his brother leaves the White House?  Better yet, will Jeb even run for the office?

As Caroline Kennedy pursues her bright-lights, big-city bid for the U.S. Senate, another child of dynasty is quietly testing the waters for his own Senate run.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush – the son of one president and the brother of another – has been working the phones since Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) announced earlier this month that he won’t seek reelection in 2010. Sources say Bush hasn’t made up his mind yet about running for Martinez’ seat yet, but that he’s getting green lights from would-be contributors and blessings from Republican Party leaders.

Strategists and political observers take it as a sign that Bush will run.

“Everything indicates that he’s in,” said David Johnson, a Republican Strategist and the CEO of Strategic Vision. “You’re not making calls and laying the ground work for fundraising unless you’re clearing the field for your candidacy.”

The “dynasty” crack is more than a little unfair.  Jeb Bush has worked his way to power, doing the kind of party building that his older brother more or less skipped on his rise to the presidency.  He served for two years as Florida’s commerce secretary, ran successful political campaigns for other Republicans, lost his first election to Lawton Chiles by a whisker and returned the next gubernatorial election to handily defeat Chiles’ lieutenant governor, Buddy McKay.  He then ran the state of Florida for eight years, and did so well enough to leave office with over 60% approval ratings last year on his way out the door.

In contract, Caroline Kennedy endorsed Barack Obama, and then supposedly helped vet his VP options.  She helped come up with Joe Biden, who will end his political career by becoming the luckiest non-entity in American politics.  That’s the entire extent of her experience in public service.  And Kennedy wants an appointment, not an election.

Republicans want him to run, but predictions are mixed as to whether he will actually do it.  His outreach to party leaders and big contributors encourages some, but others still have their doubts.  Jeb has never been a legislator; like his brother George, he has only been an executive, and may not like the idea of becoming one of 100 voices instead of the final word.  With his brother leaving office with the inverse of Jeb’s approval ratings, he may find himself with less influence in Obama’s Washington — and with the GOP barely hanging onto the filibuster at the moment, prospects for making a big difference on policy look grim indeed.

Still, Jeb has been a devoted party man for the last 20 years and more.  I’d guess he will run for one simple reason: he may be the one Republican in Florida who can easily win the seat.  Unless someone with more standing materializes, Jeb will step up to the plate to keep the GOP in the game.


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I hope not. he’s another open-borders big-gov republican ‘moderate’ like his brother.

haven’t the bush’s done enough damage to this country?

right4life on December 27, 2008 at 11:42 AM

He can run, but he can’t hide.

No more Bush politicians — it’s not really their strong suit. No doubt he’s as honest and well-intentioned as 41 and 43, but I think many Americans are a bit sick of family dynasties and the attendant cronyism.

In fact, let’s broaden the scope: No more career politicians, anywhere.

mr.blacksheep on December 27, 2008 at 11:48 AM

How come “new fresh and exciting” can spring from the tundra of Alaska and not anywhere else?

Marcus on December 27, 2008 at 11:56 AM

Ed, your analogy is off target. Jeb Bush may have worked for his place, but his brother’s true heir is Barack Obama. Both men by-passed the traditional game to grab the Brass Ring. Today, the entire American political scenery is becoming too ‘Peyton Place’. We have professional politicians ensconced in their comfortable offices, parents bequeathing their political machine to their children and a growing sense of hopelessness amongst the general population.

This is NOT what the Founding Fathers had envisioned. We’ve corrupted the system and have no one to blame but ourselves for the outcome. Caroline Kennedy will inherit her uncle’s Senate seat, Jeb Bush will use his new Senate seat to campaign for President (a’ la Hillary) in 2012.

SeniorD on December 27, 2008 at 11:57 AM

God I hope not! Look, I like ol Jeb just as much as the next guy, and I like his brother and his dad. But the fact remains that they have destroyed the Republican party and turned it into something completely different than what it was during it’s heyday. The party needs to be purged of these folks lest some of us turn to the Libertarians for a solution that fits our ideology.

conservnut on December 27, 2008 at 11:59 AM

Jeb Bush is a party man. That’s what scares the crap out of me.

We got a party man when we got GW43, and 43′s been one disappointment after another for conservatives. Are we really willing to sacrifice our principals for the sake of a senate seat? I say we run a dark horse!

gryphon202 on December 27, 2008 at 12:01 PM

I hope Jeb Bush runs and wins. He’s a hard worker who has duked it out in FL for years. And he knows something of imigration reform. I can actually imagine him as Mrs. Palin’s running mate in 2012 or 2016.

gracie on December 27, 2008 at 12:07 PM

The nation needs some restraint on the majority’s power. That means keeping the ability to filibuster legislation in the Senate is very important. Jeb can help do that. (He also shows along with Bobby Jindal, Halley Barber, and Perry of Texas that Republicans can handle hurricanes effectively.)

KW64 on December 27, 2008 at 12:08 PM

Jeb Bush is far more conservative than GWB ever thought of being. Just because his name is Bush, don’t lump him in with the others Bushes.

TimothyJ on December 27, 2008 at 12:09 PM

I’ve never bought into the anti-dynasty fever that seems to be gripping so many, especially when it comes to Republicans*. The simple fact is that, regardless of family connections, the candidate still eventually has to face the voters. I hope Jeb runs and, after a successful turn as senator, he considers a run for president. Regardless of family ties, the people should be able to choose from among the best qualified candidates. Jeb is surely among them.

*(The Democrats, of course, are well on the way to becoming dynasty worshipers. At least as far as Kennedys go.)

irishspy on December 27, 2008 at 12:22 PM

TimothyJ on December 27, 2008 at 12:09 PM

“W” was a pretty conservative guy too when he was our governor. Something happened to him when he got to Washington. And Jeb is already pretty poor on energy policy.

conservnut on December 27, 2008 at 12:23 PM

Just as someone’s last name shouldn’t automatically mean he or she gets appointed/elected to office, a person’s last name shouldn’t automatically disqualify him or her either. At least Jeb is actually thinking of running for the seat. And then the Florida voters can decide if they’ve had enough of the Bush family.

BTW when does Chelsea Clinton turn 35? Just in time to run for Mom’s old seat in 2016.

Bennett on December 27, 2008 at 12:25 PM

The GOP doesn’t need another Bush. It needs a solid oak tree.

keep the change on December 27, 2008 at 12:26 PM

What’s wrong with you people? This obsession with political royalty is sick. He may be more qualified than his brother, but so are about half the people in this country. Why doesn’t he marry Caroline and go buy and island somewhere where they can play King and Queen. This crap has got to stop.

flyoverland on December 27, 2008 at 12:36 PM

Fuggedaboutit, Jeb. Make some history of your own by starting a tradition of Bushes not making politics a when-all-else-fails career.

No Bushes, Kennedys or Clintons in office for, say, the next 50 years, please.

MrScribbler on December 27, 2008 at 12:36 PM

Enough Bush, Clinton and Kennedy’s. Look where they have brought us.

Wade on December 27, 2008 at 12:41 PM

He sucks, like most every other Republican we already have in the Senate

lodge on December 27, 2008 at 12:42 PM

No more political families please. I don’t care how popular of a governor he was. Get fresh blood in there.

KSgop on December 27, 2008 at 12:42 PM

He sucks, like most every other Republican we already have in the Senate

lodge on December 27, 2008 at 12:42 PM

Yes, too bad they can not all be like Harry Reid

Wade on December 27, 2008 at 12:47 PM

Oh, please. He’s obviously unqualified, he has no “intellectual curiosity” about global issues, and served as the governor of a marginal state (hey, it ain’t New York or California). *tongue in cheek*

ddrintn on December 27, 2008 at 12:51 PM

Wade on December 27, 2008 at 12:47 PM

is this site strawman central or what?

lodge on December 27, 2008 at 12:53 PM

Hey, Jeb, your brother had astronomical approval ratings when he was governor of Texas. Then he went to Washington. Look where those approval ratings are now. Stay retired in Florida, Jeb. It’s where you belong.

Percy_Peabody on December 27, 2008 at 12:55 PM

Hey, Jeb, your brother had astronomical approval ratings when he was governor of Texas. Then he went to Washington. Look where those approval ratings are now. Stay retired in Florida, Jeb. It’s where you belong.

Percy_Peabody on December 27, 2008 at 12:55 PM

LOL…oh, yeah. Leave the big game alone for people who know what they’re doing…like Harry Reid, Chris Dodd, and possibly even Princess Caroline. Right, right.

ddrintn on December 27, 2008 at 12:57 PM

Not only NO but HELL NO! We should ALL start voting against ALL incumbents. Professional politicians and “dynasties” are the problem. Rookie newcomers cannot do any worse and may do a whole lot better. At least they would not be beholden to any interest groups and be focused on doing the job they were elected for.

NO INCUMBENTS and a strict forfeiture policy for personal enrichment derived from public service could turn things around in a hurry. Think of all the “taxes” that could be garnered on public servants who try to get away with it.

America1st on December 27, 2008 at 1:05 PM

Just as someone’s last name shouldn’t automatically mean he or she gets appointed/elected to office, a person’s last name shouldn’t automatically disqualify him or her either.

On one hand, we have an experienced, popular governor. On the other hand, we have, “oh, I didn’t vote much?”

Apples and oranges.

MamaAJ on December 27, 2008 at 1:07 PM

Jeb,
Why not start a new family tradition and get a private sector, “real” job.

flyoverland on December 27, 2008 at 1:09 PM

Great column here:

Are Celebrities the New Monarchy?

Let’s roll.

ex-Democrat on December 27, 2008 at 1:14 PM

Jeb would bring with him that Bush mystic reminiscent of the age of Camelhump in ’91.

Not to mention the Saudi connections that are like family.

BL@KBIRD on December 27, 2008 at 1:26 PM

Jeb,
Why not start a new family tradition and get a private sector, “real” job.

flyoverland on December 27, 2008 at 1:09 PM

Do a little research. He is the only one of the Bush kids to follow his mother’s advice on getting a real job and make some real money before heading into politics. He was a lobbyist for a time but real estate sales and development is where he made some money and contacts.
Two of his biggest hits for me is his view on open borders, and his friendship with Mel Martinez. He is the number two waterboy to McCain only behind Lindsey Graham. He has sold out his constituents and his party loyalists quicker than anyone else in the history of the party. Good riddance.
If Jeb runs he will win huge, be elevated to leadership in the party once again and we will once again have to fight over amnesty. And the majority of the party will lose. And then the party will be dead forever.

JeffinOrlando on December 27, 2008 at 1:50 PM

Jeb, unlike W, is a true conservative except for one important issue, immigration. All the rest, he is great. I wouldn’t decribe Jeb as an ‘open borders’ type, but amenable to AMNESTY, and in favor of free trade, would be more like it. Jeb also went with better enforcement locally when he was governor.

So make your own decisions.

tarpon on December 27, 2008 at 1:50 PM

I would say that it is between Jeb Bush and the people of Florida.

No doubt the purity patrol will do their best to sabotage him. And of course the Democrats will try to savage him as well.

Terrye on December 27, 2008 at 1:59 PM

tarpon:

To hear a lot of people on the right tell it if you are not Tancredo you can not be a true conservative. Whatever that is. I think Jeb and his brother are very alike on their views. Back when George W. was the Governor of Texas he was very popular with conservatives too. It was not until he got to Washington that people decided he was something else.

Terrye on December 27, 2008 at 2:01 PM

You call being a lobbyist a “real” job? Get real.

flyoverland on December 27, 2008 at 2:01 PM

W is a great man you thankless idiots.

tomas on December 27, 2008 at 2:02 PM

Is this The Daily Kos or what?

Falz on December 27, 2008 at 2:21 PM

Yeah, I’m real thankful. The socialists are in the White House and controlling Congress. My equity account is down $1.4 million. The value of my home is down 25%. The borders are still wide open. Our jobs are fleeing the country as fast as we can load the equipment for China and India and the death tax is still alive Thanks. Only an idiot would not be grateful for all that.

flyoverland on December 27, 2008 at 2:32 PM

Many people think that he is probably the best of the Bush scions.

He may be.

I don’t care.

I’ll never support another Bush.

If the people of Florida want to send him to the Senate that is their prerogative.

Doesn’t matter. The Senate is a hopeless morass anyway. He couldn’t be any worse for the GOP than McCain, and he will fit right in to the ‘Senatorial Dynastic Committee’ with Teddy and Miss Caroline Kennedy, the Udalls, etc.

LegendHasIt on December 27, 2008 at 2:42 PM

The real question for Jeb is whether, in national politics, the ‘Bush’ name brand translates better as ‘Chrysler’ or ‘Packard’.

PersonFromPorlock on December 27, 2008 at 2:50 PM

PersonFromPorlock on December 27, 2008 at 2:50 PM

I was going to say Edsel…… But at the moment, it is more like Yugo.

LegendHasIt on December 27, 2008 at 2:55 PM

He should’ve run in 2006 to defeat Democrat worthless Moron Nelson so that Republicans would’ve held the Senate that year. A Bush is OK as a Senator, NOTHING MORE.

Max47 on December 27, 2008 at 3:51 PM

We just got through with thi argment. What will he offer that 8 years of the last Bush didnt offer? Dont get me wrong, my vote is open, but once the economy swings back the other way, the Dems will take the credit since they have the ball right now.

johnnyU on December 27, 2008 at 4:16 PM

I hope not. he’s another open-borders big-gov republican ‘moderate’ like his brother. haven’t the bush’s done enough damage to this country?

Amen. I see no reason to keep the GOP alive if this is the best they can cough up.

angelat0763 on December 27, 2008 at 4:52 PM

I definitely think Jeb is to the right of his brother on politics, but I need a clear answer from him on the amnesty issue. I heard from RedState that Jeb is to the right on George W. on amnesty. How exactly though?

jencab on December 27, 2008 at 5:21 PM

PARTY GIRL

Sarah Palin 2009 Calendar Amazon Best Seller

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Mercy4Me on December 27, 2008 at 5:40 PM

W is a great man you thankless idiots.

tomas on December 27, 2008 at 2:02 PM

W Who?

Wade on December 27, 2008 at 6:02 PM

I’m frightenly reminded of something that Robert Stacy McCain wrote back in November:

Palin is being sabotaged by Republicans who are trying to scramble aboard the Jeb Bush 2012 bandwagon. [Nicole Wallace, btw, worked for Jeb.]

Conservatives who support Palin recognize her as a potential fresh start for the GOP, whereas devotees of the status quo are looking to continue the Bush dynasty. Republicans got stuck with John McCain as this year’s nominee not because there was an overwhelming landslide for McCain (who finished with just 47% of the GOP primary vote) but because conservatives failed to unite behind an Anybody But McCain candidate.

Mark my words, the 2012 primaries will come down to Jeb Bush vs. Please God Not Jeb Bush, and Palin is the obvious PGNJB candidate. If the field gets overcrowded with a bunch of wannabes — Huckabee, Romney, etc. — dividing up the PGNJB vote, then we’ll get Jeb Bush. We’ve already had two Bushes too many.

So, yeah, the GOP is screwed because somebody made the wrong running-mate choice, but it wasn’t made by John McCain in 2008. It was made by Ronald Reagan in 1980. Conservatives should rally around the slogan, “NO MORE BUSHES.”

ramrocks on December 27, 2008 at 7:18 PM

tarpon on December 27, 2008 at 1:50 PM

Sorry. No one in the Bush family is a true conservative. The greatest mistake Ronald Reagan ever made was when he chose George H. W. Bush as his running mate. We’ve been stuck with that family ever since.

I will never vote for anyone with the last name Bush ever again. And if anyone thinks the American people will be fooled into electing another Bush as president, then I’ve got some land to sell them in the state Jeb used to be governor of.

ramrocks on December 27, 2008 at 7:24 PM

The last thing we need is another RINO in the White House, especially one who will bring his old man’s people back, and/or be very unlikely to come up with an original idea. The first Bush won in part because he was an incumbent vice-president, one who had already disillusioned conservatives by Reagan’s second term. The second one… well, need I say more?

manwithblackhat on December 27, 2008 at 9:05 PM

W is a great man you thankless idiots.

tomas on December 27, 2008 at 2:02 PM

I second tomas’ comment

DarkCurrent on December 27, 2008 at 9:36 PM

Only the GOP insiders will be happy if he runs.

Jeb doesn’t excite me at all.

DannoJyd on December 27, 2008 at 11:28 PM

Jeb doesn’t excite me at all.

DannoJyd on December 27, 2008 at 11:28 PM

What gets you going Danno?

DarkCurrent on December 28, 2008 at 12:21 AM

Speaking as a Florida native, I would be ecstatic if this stupendous governor would come back to serve our state once more. The rest of the country can gnaw on their knuckles in anguish all they want, but at least we wouldn’t be sending another Kennedy to Washington.

sleepyhead on December 28, 2008 at 12:23 AM

I don’t think people in this country are too worried about ones’ experience level when running for any office.

nazo311 on December 28, 2008 at 1:08 AM

Jeb Bush/Sarah Palin or Sarah Palin/Jeb Bush

Okay, so I really just want the pleasure of watching liberal heads explode. Even if I do have to listen to 2 straight years of apoplectic reporters opining about the perils of “dynasty”

theregoestheneighborhood on December 28, 2008 at 1:27 AM

W is a great man you thankless idiots.

tomas on December 27, 2008 at 2:02 PM

I second tomas’ comment

DarkCurrent on December 27, 2008 at 9:36 PM

Don’t worry about them. A couple years of Obama will have everyone reminiscing about the good old days when we had a decent president.

I know, you’d think the last year of watching the McCain candidacy crash would have us nostalgic already for Bush, but deep pains take a while to heal.

theregoestheneighborhood on December 28, 2008 at 1:32 AM

Unless all the negative about Jeb running for the Senate commenters are from Florida, they don’t get a say in the matter, do they?

Jeanette on December 28, 2008 at 1:45 AM

Please, Lord – not another Bush in ’12. And I have a question for a previous poster – If the Bushes are so honest, how come they are in politics in the first place?

abcurtis on December 28, 2008 at 4:44 AM

We must have another Bush to run for President of The United States! Without a Bush we are lost! There simply are no other viable candidates on the right! None! Remember there are only 300million Americans and probably only 140 or 150million of these consider themselves to be conservative so the pickings get pretty limited when you start breaking things down like that! When forced to try to find someone out of only 140 million people, we are left with only 1 name and that is Bush! We must have Jeb Bush for our next candidate or the Democrats will run unapposed! It’s that simple! At least for the RNC!

sabbott on December 28, 2008 at 6:38 AM

Until the dopes running the GOP are told to find real jobs, we will be left with hacks filling the roles of the loyal minority party. Its time to throw them all out and start finding true conservatives with brains, not names.

flyoverland on December 28, 2008 at 10:32 AM

2000-Unlike his father, George W. Bush is a true conservative.

2012-Unlike his brother, Jeb Bush is a true conservative.

Deja vu all over again.

Percy_Peabody on December 28, 2008 at 12:44 PM

He can run, but he can’t hide.

No more Bush politicians — it’s not really their strong suit. No doubt he’s as honest and well-intentioned as 41 and 43, but I think many Americans are a bit sick of family dynasties and the attendant cronyism.

In fact, let’s broaden the scope: No more career politicians, anywhere.

mr.blacksheep on December 27, 2008 at 11:48 AM

Oh but think of how sweet it will sound Bush 41,Bush 43 and now Bush 45. It has a nice ring to it don’t you think?

kanda on December 28, 2008 at 3:23 PM

it kanda don’t

flyoverland on December 28, 2008 at 4:28 PM

sabbott on December 28, 2008 at 6:38 AM

If there was a posting Hall of Fame…your post would win hands down Great Job!.

kanda on December 28, 2008 at 5:28 PM

I really hope he doesn’t run.

Enough of the Bushes, Clitons, and Kennedys. Out of 300 million people surely we can do better than these degenerates?

Ares on December 29, 2008 at 5:00 AM

I hope he runs for Senate, and wins the seat.

I don’t think he’ll be up for a Presidential campaign in 2012, unless “O” implodes spectacularly. He might dip his toe in the pool, but if “O” has decent popularity nobody will be looking for Shrub II. I think even with the continuing media attacks, we’re looking 50/50 at a Palin candidacy for 2012. 50/50 it’s somebody else (Romney, Sanford, ??? Not Jeb).

If Obama gets 2 terms, and Jeb gets the Senate seat and maintains popularity, we may be looking at Bush 2016.

IMHO.

cs89 on December 29, 2008 at 12:25 PM