(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.
Thank God! I'm bushed out!!! Can they just go home screw up their own backyard.
Hey 'Anonymous' – with posts like your, we can understand why you want to stay 'Anonymous'......... I'll bet you are in reality – the bushman!
I don't care what office he holds in Florida, just keep him away from the Oval Office. Even though he is much smarter than "W" (easy contest, I know), there's just something inherently wrong with the same family having so much power for so long (same problem I had with Hillary running). But I'm sure the Bush family will try to make the third time the charm.
@Jackie in Dallas
Say what you will about a shrub but take back those mean things you said about crepe myrtles!
Thank you LORD and thank you SIR, Jebb. You are indeed a good man.... LOL!!!
At least somebody got some sense in that family.
Rejoice! The last thing we need at this point is another Bush, particularly after two failed Bush presidencies, with father and son at the bottom of the presidential ladder, 41 and 43 are now 42 (the father) and 43 (the incumbent) in presidential status, the two worst presidents in history.
I live in Orlando, Fl.. this is the best news, we could have recieved, prayer does work,,, Jeb & the old man are right, the USA has had enough! of the bush family,, may we never ever hear from them again!
Praise the Lord! Now let's just hope that the country never forgets Jeb's role in the 2000 election and the disastrous presidency that resulted from his brother's ineptness. In four or eight or twelve years, Jeb will be back looking for a job - JUST SAY NO, AMERICA!
If the budget problems he left the state of Florida, the trouble we are going through, he is not fit to write a check, much less be an elected offical.
So He finally sees the crap his Brother created.....
FINALLY! Some GOOD NEWS out of the media. This little ray of sunshine made my day. Perhaps it's because, there's nothing left to plunder!
Why would he run for senator in 2010 when he can run for president in 2012!!!!!!
Aprt from the Lehman brothers bank bringing him down, Jeb is not tready to run in two elections within three years. He is sorely looking for somebody – Sarah Palin – to pick him as running mate.
Awwww, so sorry Jeb. excuse me while i cry my eyes out in my Cheerios......
I am deeply delighted.
Great spin Jeb!! net net..if you could have won you would have run..net net the.. internal polls probably showed Bush fatigue and would lose..you had your shot..to bad you couldn't beat Lawton .. we would not be saddled with your criminal and moronic sibling for 8 horrific years.. to paraphase On the Waterfront.. "you was my brother Georgie..you should looked out for me..now I have one way ticket to palookavlle"
STAY OUT OF THE BUSHES!
My stomach turns at the idea of seeing another Bush.
Poppy Bush must be pissed that his incompetent offspring became the most incompetent president in history, whereas the son with a bit of brainpower will never become president.
But little George sure showed his old man, how to be President, now didn't he? (snark)
It does not matter, Debbie Wassermsan Shultz is going to win that seat!
I don't think it's a problem for your state, let thenatives decide....people have issues with the thought of you running in the national limelight...and Daddy really didn't help by telling the world he wanted that for you.
Like he had a chance after his Nitwit Brother and Father...right.
Behold the END of the EVIL GOP
What are we going to have to laugh about once the Bush team is gone thats the only thing I will miss is the humor of these idiots LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLO