January 6th, 2009
05:40 PM ET
5 years ago

Jeb Bush not running for Senate

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says now is not the right time for him to return to elected office.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says now is not the right time for him to return to elected office.

(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.


Filed under: Jeb Bush • Popular Posts
soundoff (253 Responses)
  1. andy

    “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 other words, Jeb knows that anyone named Bush couldn't get elected dogcatcher these days.

    January 6, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  2. donna

    I'm sure everyone is a little less worried now!!!!

    WHEW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 6, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  3. Benn

    Thank god! We don't need anymore Bushes or Clintons. Especially RINOs like the Bushes.

    January 6, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  4. Ellie

    THANK YOU JESUS, WE DON'T WANT ANY MORE BUSHES!!

    THANK YOU JESUS, WE DON'T WANT ANY MORE BUSHES!!

    THANK YOU JESUS, WE DON'T WANT ANY MORE BUSHES!!

    THANK YOU JESUS, WE DON'T WANT ANY MORE BUSHES!!

    THANK YOU JESUS, WE DON'T WANT ANY MORE BUSHES!!

    THANK YOU JESUS, WE DON'T WANT ANY MORE BUSHES!!

    THANK YOU JESUS, WE DON'T WANT ANY MORE BUSHES!!

    THANK YOU JESUS, WE DON'T WANT ANY MORE BUSHES!!

    THANK YOU JESUS, WE DON'T WANT ANY MORE BUSHES!!

    January 6, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  5. HouseDiva

    thank God!

    January 6, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  6. geecee827

    I would have had more respect for Jeb if he hadn't cooked the vote for his big brother in Florida in 2000. Gore lost by only 547 votes and Dubya then got all of Florida's electoral votes to win the presidency. There were so many voting irregularities in Florida that election year which were never corrected by Katherine Harris or Jeb so that George could win. Guess Jeb just couldn't let his big brother down and have him lose the state of which he was Governor! I often wonder what a different world we would be living in today if Al Gore were our President.

    January 6, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  7. Conservative James, Phoenix, AZ

    I believe that I speak on behalf of all the creatures on the third planet from the sun when I say, Thank you!!!!

    January 6, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  8. Franky

    I guess the family need a vacation...they definitely need it.

    January 6, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  9. Mari

    YEAH.........THANK YOU! Our Nation has had ENOUGH of Bushes to last a CENTURY!

    YES...... THANK GOD!

    HOPE WON...............HOPE WON..............HOPE WON..........HOPE WON!

    January 6, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  10. Jack

    Thank God! We've had enough of Jeb in Florida. He needs to just spend his remaining years relaxing in the sun and working on his tan and his book. The idea of him running for Senate or even worse, the Presidency is just a nightmare.

    January 6, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  11. Sue

    ...maybe Gov Crist.

    January 6, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  12. Jeff Langer

    We can close the bloody book on the Bush's!

    January 6, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  13. Cindy

    Good. Tired of Bush. All forms of Bush. The Presidents, the Governors, the entire name Bush. I wont even drink the beer named Busch. We have had enough of BUSH. No more Bushisms.

    January 6, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  14. Axel

    Thank God. We don't need another yee-haw Bushite.

    January 6, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  15. Emily

    No more Bushes. If our country can recover from George it will be
    a miracle. All we need is another one right on his heels to make sure everything goes down the toilet again.

    January 6, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  16. Proud American

    That's a shame. I would have loved to see him in D.C.

    January 6, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  17. Jeff Langer

    Change has come to America, goodbye Bush's!

    January 6, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  18. John

    No more BUSH!

    January 6, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  19. Sharon Kitchen

    Boy was that close !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!No to bush,any bush . Maybe he thought about what good ol'brother has done to the U.S.
    ?????? He advised Lehman???????????uh,oh.

    Rep. Debbie Schultz would be great !!!!!!!!!!! She gets at the truth no matter what,and that is very , very, good.

    January 6, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  20. MikeH

    Could the incident where Jeb's wife was seen to be screaming outside Jeb's alleged mistress's house in the wee hours of the morning a few years back have anything to do with Jeb's decision?

    January 6, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  21. Is it just me?

    Don't breathe a sigh of relief yet, I think he wants to run for Prez in 2012.

    January 6, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  22. Phil from Ashburn

    NO MORE

    January 6, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  23. RCLGuard

    Did you just hear that? I think it was a collective sigh of relief from the entire United States.

    January 6, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  24. paul (staunch Moderate)

    A very smart decision. It may be 25 or 30 years before this country is ready for another Bush in a federal office. We've already had 2 too many. And this last one was, well... plainly speaking, criminal. Although Daddy Bush would like nothing more than to make history by having both of his sons sit in the Big Chair I think Dubya has seen to it that Jeb will never get there. And it very well may be the ONLY good thing he's accomplished.

    January 6, 2009 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  25. james in s.c.

    THANK THE ALMIGHTY GOD!!!!

    January 6, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11