(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.
Let the Bush bashing begin,,
i'm a democrat! & i voted for Obama . I can't stand GWB but as a Floridian. JEB is GREAT! he did an incredible job here, & I was very sadened to hear he won't be running. Please come back and take Charlie C. outta here! HE'S GARBAGE!!!
14 days till OBAMA-NATION!!!!!
So younger Bush will not run for office now. No, he wants to be a part of the re-building of the GOP in this country. He will participate from the sidelines and in eight years he will prepare himself for a presidential run...mark my words.
This Bush has always had presidential aspirations and we all know that he is Daddy's chosen one for public office but Jr. got in the way and mucked up the family name. No way Jeb is gone.
Remain vigilent people, the Repugs are not far off and they will not sit quietly over the next number of years. They are the perfect example of insidiousness and they want their power back. We must not let our guard down. They will be back.
Don't worry, you still have the Clintons. LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says now is not the right time for him to return to elected office.***Good No more BUSHES !!!
Just so you know, Jeb's immense popularity left us with a $2.5 Billion dollar debt in Florida. I think you might be overestimating his appeal with Florida voters, and Jeb might have some difficulty winning.
That's the best news I have had all day, that and the email about Kaloches in the break room...yeah baby, it's a great day!
I knew Jeb Bush and all you hatemongers and whiny idiots couldn't hold a candle to Jeb! ..and I say that as a sincerely deceased Democrat.
No More Bushes. GW has ruined this country and it will take generations to rebuild. His dad, who ran on the same ticket with Willie Horton, was no great leader either.
Let us all let out a big, collective sigh of relief...
Proud American, are you a troll? Seriously, I have a hard time accepting that anybody with enough brains to power fingers to type would post the idiotic and childish remarks that you do. I know that you and the other lefty kids on these bloggs enjoy spewing hate but try a constructive, thoughtful, post once in a while. Now, go ahead and spout some more.....
After Jeb's hanging-chad fiasco of Florida that subjugated us to 8 years of Brother W, it's a relief that he won't be returning to public political spotlight any time soon ...
I knew Jeb Bush and all you hatemongers and whiny idiots couldn't hold a candle to Jeb! ...and I say that as a sincerely deceased Democrat.
Good! I've had enough of the Bushes for a while!
Daddy Bush was complicit in the Savings&Loan scandals,Iran Contra, and failed to support the Iraqi rebellion following Desert Storm which resulted in thousands being killed. Brother Jeb abetted the stealing of the 2000 election from Al Gore which led to Brother George driving the country into war and poverty from which it will take generations to recover. Brother Jeb's shining moment as governor was to illegally intrude into the Schiavo case. When Jeb left office Florida real estate was back to the old "I've got some swampland in Florida to sell you" standard of worthlessness. Heckuva job Bushies!!! Now just leave us alone so we can go about cleaning up this mess.
Too bad....how does that saying go? Cancer comes in threes? Not this time! Thank G0D
2 Bushes were 2 too many. I don't believe in this case the 3rd one would be a charm.
THEY ARE A FAMILY OF LOSERS!!!!!
Jeb is "NOTHING" like his brother. All of you that compare him to G.W. are the morons that should not be allowed to vote or have children.
It's gonna take a lot longer than 2 years to get the stain out of the Bush name. They'll be saying, "Out, out, damned spot," for years before memories dim enough to give them another chance.
Thank the high and mightly for this good news!!!.........at least some one up there loves America..............................
Had to post one more IN RESPONSE TO ALL YOU BUSH HATERS!;
***WE LEARNED OUT LESSON?!?!?! NO WE DIDN'T! HAHA....we voted for him....TWICE....it only took us a devestating attack on the homeland, 2 wars, domestic spying, foreign torture, hatred against us by all, and a tanking economy for us to "learn our lesson." Come on..if you voted for him twice..you're to blame..and if you didn't vote for him at all..well you are blameworthy too!!! You didn't do enough to get out the vote or discourage those who you knew liked him!!!
I include myself in the latter category of fault. And I apologize
Jeb Bush won't live long enough for the stink of the crap George W. Bush has piled on our country to disappear. Jeb will never be elected for anything.
I have give up on anything with the name Bush,,Reggie Bush ,,Bush Beans
@ Independent, 5:23 pm
I agree with you on Obama, but you must not be from Florida. Jeb was a terrible governor. The only people who liked him were the old folks, the holy rollers and the rednecks, which actually make up more than 60% of the state, so I guess not all of them liked him either. He did NOTHING for Florida - our education system is in shambles, our cities are full of vacant and half-completed development projects, we are still the butt of election jokes, and even our football teams are circling the drain (except UF, but they suck on principle).
Can we enact a lifetime ban on anyone named Bush from holding high elective office in this country again?
Thank you God!!