(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.
....and America breathes a collective sigh of relief. I'd keep him on the radar, though--someone in the Dynasty, like Poppy, will probably decide in 4 yrs that the country is ready for more shrubbery.
thank goodness! however, he may have his eye on running for pres. in 2012.
Thank goodness! Whew! Maybe he understands why we all are sighing with relief!
Bush beans I hear are good. But that name does not get into my house.
Jeb is a good guy, but Its NOT the time !!
He is gonna run in 2012 as Palin's VP and ensure a FDR-esque landslide by Obama.
So can all of you who posted before me please say what JEB Bush did to get you to dislike the thought of him running for office?
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.
There's a GOD!!!!!
Yeah, IVAN...like we need more like Obama...now there's a good candidate..haha....
Anyone listening to the senior Mr. Bush brag on his son George has got to feel "had" by this idiotic family. He blames others for the incompetent son he raised. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, that's for sure.
THANK YOU JESUS, WE DON'T WANT ANY MORE BUSHES!!
That actually should read,
THANK YOU JESUS, WE DON'T WANT ANY MORE WHINY LIBERALS!!
Jeb Bush was an excellent governor for Florida. Anyone that disagrees is either a nonworking malcontent, or an entitlement hound that wanted freebie handouts. Jeb is 10x the man Obama is, and would easily defeat him in 2012....that's probably the plan...
You morons know, of course, that he was considering running for SENATOR from Florida, not President. And he's immensely popular there because he did a fine job as Governor. I understand "Bush fatigue" - thank God we're done with the Clintons too - but you people really need to get over it. W's made his share of mistakes but Thank GOD we weren't stuck with Gore! I'm SO ready for the Obama years!
HEY JEB..... NEVER RUN FOR ANY ELECTED OFFICE AGAIN AND THE COUNTRY WILL BE JUST FINE....
NO MORE BUSHES
Translation–My big brother messed up so badly, I can never be president now.
So much for the Bush/Palin ticket. Or as Gov. Palin would have had it – Todd Palin/Bush.
One word: EXCELLENT!!!!!!!!!!!!
I wont be happy or celebrating right now beacuse he didnt say he wont come back. NOT THE RIGHT TIME this is more scary than its already is. He know Florida just gone DEM so he wont want to go out there and fail so he his looking for where to strike. Bushes are so terrible they use all means necessary to get their goals acheieved. I am not relieved until God help Floridans to not vote him for anything including mayor of any county.
We havd stayed in the Bush too long we dont want to go back there...
He can pal around with Sarah and he can show her Cuba from his house and she can show him Russia from her house-Yay Tina Fey!
Wow TCM for a little Idiot your all over the place.
Don't thank God yet, people, he hasn't said he won't run for President or VP in 2012! Don't count him out until he's underground! The human Bushes are a lot like the Crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica), a bush grown in the South. They do provide color and shade, but once they are planted and take root, they are impossible to get rid of! They also have the nasty habit of branching out uncontrollably, leave nasty residue all over your yard, and take constant pruning to manage.
Hey, judge not lest you be judged.
Could not resist the deity invoking yahoo response, and yeah, Jeb, go find legitimate work, if you can. Living off the franchise is not real.
Allen January 6th, 2009 4:43 pm ET
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.
Jeb in the senate does have national implications, just not as big a one as president would. But at least we all get to vote for the President.
There are generally 98 Senators who each of us didn't get a chance to vote for or against, making decisions that affect each of us every day (well, maybe not so much when they are out of session...)
But that's the way it works
Its all about timing isnt it. Its everything. I am so relieved that we wont have to deal with another Bush in the near future. On the other hand, if the Republican party drools on its shoes over Palin again in 2012 Jeb could re-surface as her VP.
Thats great he's not running!