Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush
February 11, 1953 (age 57), Midland, Texas
Spouse(s): Columba Bush
Children : George Prescott, Noelle Bush and John Ellis Bush, Jr
Residence : Coral Gables, Florida
Alma mater: University of Texas
Profession: Banker, Realtor
Religion: Roman Catholic
Political Career :
- Chairman of the Dade County Republican Party.
- Served as Florida Secretary of Commerce before resigning to work on his father’s successful 1988 presidential campaign.
- In 1989 he served as the campaign manager of Ileana Ros-Lehtinen the first Cuban-American to serve in Congress.
- In 1994 Jeb narrowly lost a race for Governor of Florida to incumbent Governor Lawton Chiles. He lost by 63,940 votes out of 4,206,076 that were cast. (2,135,008; 50.8% to 2,071,068; 49.2%).
- In 1998, Bush ran for Governor again and defeated incumbent Lt. Governor Buddy MacKay by over 418,000 votes (2,191,105; 55.3% to 1,773,054; 44.7%) . Bush became the first Republican governor of Florida to have served two full four-year terms.
Jeb Bush is probably the only member of the Bush family whose last name is hurting him.
After his fathers presidency and before his brother became governor of Texas, I became quite impressed by Jeb. I saw him, with the exception of Barbara and Laura, as the best Bush of them all. In fact it was Jeb whom I had hoped would someday become only the second son of a President to himself be elected President.
His tenure as Governor of Florida helped demonstrate that he probably is the best one and that he is certainly the most conservative one.
As Governor of Florida, he did everything his way and despite political populism among an array of influential voting blocs, he fearlessly championed initiatives such as faith-based prisons and the nations first statewide school voucher system, mandatory standardized testing in Florida’s public schools, eliminating social promotion and establishing a system of funding public schools based on a statewide grading system.
He downsized state government, trimmed the state’s payroll, saved Florida military bases from closure and with the exception of his attempts to keep Terry Schiavo alive, he battled against government intrusion in private lives.
Jeb also led a drive to make Florida a biotechnology center by luring the Scripps Research Institute to Palm Beach County with $369 million in state money as bait. And under his leadership, Florida led the nation in job creation and the state earned Wall Street’s highest possible bond rating.
During 2004 and 2005 while Florida was under attack by Mother Nature and endured a seemingly endless line of more than 8 powerful, back-to-back, hurricanes, in English and Spanish, Jeb instructed residents and agencies on how to cope with the fury of the storms and when each tropical cyclone passed, he oversaw effective, smooth running relief and rebuilding efforts.
As a true conservative believer in limited government, Jeb Bush is a leader in both civic responsibility and a leader and dedicated, active, participant in charities.
Jeb started a non-profit organization called The Foundation For Floridas Future, a think tank that exists to influence public policy at the grassroots level. He has volunteered time to assist the Miami Children’s Hospital, the United Way and the Dade County Homeless Trust.
On the issue of education he created an institute named the Foundation for Excellence in Education and joined that institute in partnership on several projects with another group that Bush is active in, The James Madison Institute, a free market based policy think tank
In 2000, he also established the Points of Light program to recognize an “exemplary volunteer, organization, or person”.
Jeb Bush practices what he preaches. He believes that the private sector can do more than government can do and so when in government he has strives for a limited one. And when not in government he strives to find paths for making life better through private sector initiatives and the involvement of volunteers.
All of this tells the tale of a man who is all that someone once described him as in a letter to Hugh Sidey a Bush family friend and former employee of Time magazine.
“there is no question in my mind that he will become a major political figure in this country. He is passionate in his caring and his beliefs. He speaks well and at 6’4″, he is an impressive man. Take it from his Dad.”
Those words were written by President George H.W. Bush, on November 3, 1998, the morning of Jeb Bushs second try at getting elected Governor of Florida. They were also written before George W. became President. Personally I believe that those words were indicative of the thinking that Jeb was expected to be the one to be elected President. And although I don’t think papa Bush was playing one against the other he was just stating what was the expectations of that time. Either way. although those words may have been reflecting the thoughts of a proud father who was about to see two of his children become the governors of the second and fourth largest states in the nation, they are still true. And President Bush, the father, isnt alone in those thoughts. There are many others who realize Jebs potential.
But can America take the thought of a third Bush family member’s presidency seriously?
There comes a point when the same generations that are involved in an election must ask themselves how many times can lightening strike the same family and if there is only one family that, like a royal family, is the only family who can offer us a leader?
So Jeb Bush is screwed. Not because of his ability and his record. Not because he isnt qualified, but because he is a Bush. And even though America can overcome their prejudices and elect people of different sexes, religions and colors, they probably cant overcome their prejudices of the Bush family in just the four short years since W. left office.
But stranger things have happened and no one can predict with certainty, the crop that Republicans will field in 2012. And it should also be noted that there are many who do stillenter the thoughtg of a Jeb Bush presidency, despite the unlikelihood of a third Bush winning over the favor of the nation. Just the ability to consider such a thing is testament to the fact that Jeb is truly a special brand and that he has superior abilities.
So it is possible that Jeb could run. He can raise the capitol for a campaign. He can easily rally a substantial conservative base, has the ability to inspire people and has a very good record to run on. In fact he has much more of a record than Barack Obama had when he ran for President.
In his two-term limited tenure as Governor, Jeb defined leadership as having to make the tough choices and he applied that thinking to an aggressive agenda that was based on the conservative tenet of limited government. That same agenda can still fly with many American voters.
But just as he defined leadership by making tough decisions, some of the tough decisions Jeb made didnt always come up roses. His limited government philosophy was vilified when it came to his Department of Children and Families. When one day, it was discovered that 5-year-old Rilya Wilson who was missing for 15 months before the department learned that she was gone, Governor Bush ordered a complete review of the agencies work. The review discovered that the Departemnt of Children and Families lost track of nearly 400 youngsters that were under its care. Governor Bush then ordered the Department of Law Enforcement and the Department of Children and Families in to find 393 those children.
Even though the trail of missing children began long before Jeb took office, it was during his time in office that the trail was discovered, so the issue is wasno fault of Jeb Bush buthe caught some blame for it. That despite his efforts to rectify the wrongs in the Department of Children and Families.
The only other issue that could weigh down Jeb Bush since leaving the office of Governor, was his inability to significantly reduce high property taxes during his two terms.
Of all three of these negatives, the family name still remains Jebs greatest hurdle to overcome.
In general, Jeb Bush is a policy wonk and a tried and true conservative. His passion is imprioving education in America and spends much of his time promoting better education opportunities, methods and policies.
Had he not been term limited, it is more than likely that he would have handily won reelection to a third term as Floridas governor.
This year Jeb passed up the chance to run for Floridas open U.S. Senate seat. So it is obvious that he is not actually knocking people over to win elected office. In fact Jeb has gone on record as stating that right now his priority is making money for his family. You have to admire the honesty in that statement. But you also have to take it as a sign that as of now, Jeb probably sees that in 2012 there will be a number of qualified, competent and even exceptional candidates running for the GOP presidential nomination, so many in fact, that he realizes he may not be able to convince enough people that only another Bush could do the job this time around.
So unless the Tim Pawlentys, Sarah Palins, Haley Barbours, Chris Christies, John Thunes, Jim DeMints, and a a whole host of other big names decide not to run, Jeb Bush is likely to sit 2012 out and bide his time before either running for U.S. Senate in a future election and eyeing 2016.