(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.
No more Bushes please !!! maybe O-Railey
I guess it will be hard to win an election in the future unless the unions tell ACORN to steal it for you.
I agree with all of you....but don't think for a minute that his hat won't be in the ring for the White House in 2012...that ought to be fun....Bush VS Palin......
I love Jeb for his decision. At least there is one person who is wise in the family to understand American people. It is definitely not good time for him or for America. I wish him all the best.
Gee Jeb, its too bad you can't exploit the Bush name again, what will the world do without a Bush? I always said that Bush's are meant to be outside the White House, not inside. Your reasoning for the timing not being right is only because your brother sort of destroyed your family's tradition. When your party talks about "no more Clinton's," it looks like the Clintons beat you hands down as far as staying in public life. It must hurt to know that after what you put the Clinton's through, they've again come out on top.
Thanks for not running for anything. Sit back and enjoy what a real leader looks like – Happy New Year.
Not run for Senate.
Goll darn, that's the smartest thing I've ever seen a Bush do!
Our prayers have been answered! One Bush too many!
Lovely how many people immediately jump to bury Jeb Bush without having ever heard of the man, let alone having familiarity with his performance as a public servant.
Be careful what you provoke when you attack him solely for being a Bush. If all future African American leaders were thought of as just another Farrakhan, or Hispanic American leaders as just another Castro, our future would be robbed of the potential successes of public servants like Gov. Richardson or President-elect Obama.
Whew! Another close call.
Now if only we could get Crist out of office... then Florida may finally be on the road to healing after so many years of crap.
let's all let out a huge sigh of relief!
Not the right time huh Jeb??? You have your dumba$$ brother to thank for that:)
Why are the Bush-Boys so lacking in intelligence?! Bush-the-junior is an absolute moron and Bush-the-junior-junior is no better off!
Thank goodness he's not going to run for any political office. I wouldn't want anyone with the Bush name to ever serve as dog-catcher much less any position of higher office. And I don't mean to slight dog-catchers around America. The Bush family should just go away and not be seen nor heard from ever again.
Thank God. I don't want to hear or see another Bush in the administration until I have passed away. Then I don't have to deal with them. at all
Wow – now this is Real news – a "Bush" making a right decision – finally.
Thank you Jeb for NOT running for senate!!
While everyone is breathing a sigh of relief, this news should only mean something to Floridians.
I'm wondering if this is Jeb's way of being able to get ready for 2012, when the GOP will be looking to regain the White House. That is something of concern for the nation, and he hasn't ruled that out to my knowledge.
Thank you Lord!!
Let's face it... if he's yet another Bush liberal in Republican sheepskin, we conservatives have no use for another Bush.
Did he actually state what he meant, or did he check the wrong box on the questionairre?
Did he mail it, or make the statement in front of witnesses?
Did he say it, or did his dad say it?
Have the Florida voters weighed in on this decision at the voting booths?
Was he told that he's not conservative enough to run as a republican by the RNC?
Did Palin fire him?
If he ran for President, could he use his dad's and brothers recycled campaign material? (It has Bush written on it, right?)
Are they going to recount his decision, or let it stand?
PRAISE THE LORD
Jeb Bush isn't going to run for Senate?
It is very disappointment,jeb is the only person who holds the future of republican,we love you and we hope you will change your mind and running for senate
THANK YOU GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It does not matter anyway....America is sick to death of the Bushes...he did not have a chance
14 days and no more Shrubs.
FOURTEEN DAYS !!!