In interviews with members of the Florida congressional delegation and senators with ties to the previous two Bush administrations, none could name a member of Congress who was actively promoting Bush’s candidacy on Capitol Hill. The silence around Bush’s potential candidacy in the halls of the Capitol is surprising, particularly for someone viewed by many as an “establishment” candidate—a quintessential party insider.
Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, who acted as a congressional liaison for George W. Bush’s 2000 campaign, said he was not aware of anyone serving in that capacity for Jeb Bush. Moreover, Blunt said he had not spoken with the younger Bush since Bush formed an exploratory committee for the presidency in mid-December…
It may be too early for candidates to really get started campaigning among members of Congress, Blunt added. Presidential candidates don’t typically appoint official congressional liaisons until much later in the campaign season. Romney, for example, appointed Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers to be his liaison in the House and provide members with details on his travel and policy platforms in June 2012.
Rep. Jeff Miller of Florida, who chairs the House Veterans Affairs Committee and served in the state Legislature while Bush was governor, said he had no idea that Bush was going to be in Washington last week. Obviously, no outreach happened. “I didn’t even know he was in town until I saw it on the press,” Miller said, adding that he hasn’t spoken with Bush about his 2016 bid.
By contrast, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited Washington just a day after Bush and met with 25 House Republicans, according to the Bergen County Record.