(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.
“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.
I'm sure everyone is a little less worried now!!!!
Thank god! We don't need anymore Bushes or Clintons. Especially RINOs like the Bushes.
THANK YOU JESUS, WE DON'T WANT ANY MORE BUSHES!!
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.
I believe that I speak on behalf of all the creatures on the third planet from the sun when I say, Thank you!!!!
I guess the family need a vacation...they definitely need it.
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!
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.
...maybe Gov Crist.
We can close the bloody book on the Bush's!
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.
Thank God. We don't need another yee-haw Bushite.
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.
That's a shame. I would have loved to see him in D.C.
Change has come to America, goodbye Bush's!
No more BUSH!
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.
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?
Don't breathe a sigh of relief yet, I think he wants to run for Prez in 2012.
Did you just hear that? I think it was a collective sigh of relief from the entire United States.
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.
THANK THE ALMIGHTY GOD!!!!