(CNN) - Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, President Bush's younger brother, has decided he will not seek Florida's open senate seat in 2010, setting off what's sure to be a wide-open and hotly contested battle to replace Republican Sen. Mel Martinez.
In a statement released Tuesday, the younger Bush said the time isn't right him to return to public life.
“While the opportunity to serve my state and country during these turbulent and dynamic times is compelling, now is not the right time to return to elected office," Bush said in the statement. “In the coming months and years, I hope to play a constructive role in the future of the Republican Party, advocating ideas and policies that solve the pressing problems of our day.
Bush was elected governor of Florida in 1998 and 2002 and was considered a leading contender for the seat set to be vacated by Martinez. His presence in the race would have added immediate star power to a contest Democrats are likely to make their top target in 2010.
But the former governor, who has largely remained out of the spotlight over the past two years, would likely have been hindered by his close association with the unpopular outgoing president, whose approval ratings continue to hove around 30 percent nationally and even lower in Florida.
But Jeb Bush left office in 2007 with approval ratings well over 60 percent, a sign he would likely have been insulated in the state from his brother's unpopularity, and among Florida Republican's best hopes for retaining the seat.
Since exiting the governor's office, Bush has served on the board of Tenet Healthcare Corporation. He also joined the now-defunct investment bank Lehman Brothers in 2007 as an adviser to its private equity business.
According to published reports, Democrats view Alex Sink, the state's chief financial officer, as the candidate best positioned to run for the seat. Before Martinez's announcement, Sink suggested she was uninterested in the run, but it's likely she now may reconsider.
Democrats are also considering Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a high-profile supporter of Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential bid, though Schultz's congressional spokesman said it is unlikely she will run. Other Democrats mentioned include Reps. Kendrick Meek and Allen Boyd.
On the Republican side, Reps. Vern Buchanan and Connie Mack are said to be interested, as well as several GOP state officials.
“I think it will mean a very bloody primary for us and possibly for the Democrats. His candidacy would have cleared the field for Republicans. I cannot imagine the craziness,” a Florida GOP strategist told CNN Political Editor Mark Preston.
The strategist said that several Republicans could now jump in the race including U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, state Senate President Jeff Atwater and former state House Speaker Marco Rubio.
The GOP strategist noted that Democrats might also see a primary because Bush “had the ability to knock the Democrats out,” who might have taken a pass.
Should Sen. Mel Martinez retire from the Senate early, it would avoid a Republican primary fight because Republican Gov. Charlie Crist would make the appointment and give that appointee the power of incumbency.
Quite frankly, I've had my fill of both Conservatives and the Bushes.
Jeb gets strikes on both. Add to that the fact that he oversaw the mismanaged Florida election 8 years ago and Jeb Strikes Out on a 3-0 count by my reckoning.
I thought all he had to do was just "Google It"
Hip hip horray!!!!!!!!!!
Enough Bushes! It felt like England with all the King George's. I thought this was a DEMOCRACY, not a rule of kings!
That family has done more to destroy the morals of our country than anyone. They are a bunch of mean-spirited, selfish and stupid people. No more bushes...ever...in any office...ever! Just because old Jeb isn't as completely moronic as his brother (well, really, who is?!) doesn't mean he isn't as bad as him. They were both raised by the same family of pompous a-holes.
Pay the 5 trillion dollar bill left by W and we'll love the ELEPHANTS.
Jeb ruined his own chances when he allowed his brother to steal the election in Florida! I have not talked to one Florida resident who has said that Jeb was a good governor! And I have 3 relatives living there!
Let's be honest! He doesn't have prayers chance in hell.... not after the damage his brother with his daddy's approval along with Cheney and the rest of the black hearted gang has done!
The country is lying bleeding from the Raping of the Nation by this adminstration.. Seriously! I mean Really... get over it, Repubs! Your reign of terror is over! :(
Ooooh thanks for not running... save us another "Bush Doctrine".
Question When all the Bush's have gone back to Texas who will be talk about?
yeah, PROUD AMERICAN(?) for a BIG idiot you sure get around...I guess there's not much to do between free lunches at the soup kitchen, huh? You and your 6 figure salary (including decimal points...) what a clown...you and your kind are an embarassment to the nation...
IT's amazing at how simple-minded liberals are; to discount Jeb Bush, based on his name is like discounting Obama based on his religion and color...ooh..wait....maybe you've got a point....but, of course, when Obama ever does anything right, I'll give him that credit...you mushrooms are growing bigger by the day if you could ever think Obama could be as effective as Jeb...and again, you're comparing Obama to a lesser position; as you did with Palin...it's a riot...you libs get fighting mad because you know your man's a zero, and he's knocking on the door...give it 6 months...and when fools like PROUD AMERICAN are crying because he's unemployed and inflation stiffles his unemployment check...well, you'll only have yourself to blame...so let's all party now! This year's going to be great...let's see, Rick Warren and Sanja Gupta...both upsetting the lib pukes....looks like Obama's a waffle, a weiny, or maybe a waffle-weiny.....great pick democrats!
This is good news. Most of my family live in Florida and can't stand the guy!!!!
Jennifer...and...how would you know where I pop up unless you're popping up...in the same spot? Wow...typical idiotic liberal spew...trying to cast stones at others, yet partaking in the same party! Maybe you should've not visited the OBama website so much, and became brainwashed...and voted American...in 6 months you'll feel regretful, probably the way you did on many morning afters, after all you seem to get around too, huh? But, that's the spirit of the liberal mentality..
Wow, a Bush with a brian!!! Thank you Jeb for not making us suffer through another member of your family in our government!
Keith January 6th, 2009 5:19 pm ET
I think that Jeff Bush will wait for the president Obama to fix the economy as the way it was when president Clinton was in office then he will run for the president. It is the only thing that the Bush family capable of doing by destroy it.
Keith was was exactly my thought. Thank you for expressing it.
Why didn't he use his power to sway his brother and the whole administration. How easy it is to say now that he wants to help with this crisis! Hell, his family created this crisis! I have to stop... I'm spitting up in my mouth! :(
To answer your question Proud American,, when the Bushes are no longer around,,, we can slam and beat up on Rush who is nothing but a black racist. Spewing hate and trying to start a fight over Burris.
This is the best news since Obama won the White House and Republicans were sent packing all over the country.
The only Bush with half a brain.
This guy is awesome and will be an excellent President of the US. Can't wait!
I've said it before,the constitution should state,no more than two members from one family shall be allowed to reside in the white house.And then maybe an added caveat....especially a family named
TCM, mommy's calling you, time to go back to your room.
Don't be a problem like last night, or we'll have to inject you with Thorazine again.
The TCM troll is still spewing hate and nonsense I see.
Sad that Jeb is the 'smart' Bush. Even though he clumsily fix Florida for his brother in 2000, you could see at least he has a brain.