August 10th, 2009
12:37 PM ET
9 years ago

Political family names bring shame as well as fame

George and Jeb Bush are the only sons of a president to make it to the governor's mansion.

George and Jeb Bush are the only sons of a president to make it to the governor's mansion.

(CNN) - For some families, like the Kennedys, the Bushes and the Roosevelts, politics runs in the blood. But as history shows, coming from a powerful political family doesn't mean a free ride to the top.

"It does help, and it hurts. It's a two-edged sword," said Doug Wead, a presidential historian and former adviser to President George H.W. Bush. "It initially helps the candidate with name recognition and more importantly with fundraising ... but many vote against the child as well."

The children of political families inherit a treasure chest of contacts, campaign workers and often endorsements, but the benefits have their limits.

Only two presidential sons have followed their fathers to the White House (John Quincy Adams and George W. Bush), and just one presidential family - the Bushes - has sent sons to the governor's mansion (Jeb Bush in Florida and George Bush in Texas).

"I conclude that a brand name - a famous family name - is typically worth one step up on the political ladder," said Stephen Hess, a senior fellow emeritus in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, who has researched and written about political dynasties dating back to colonial times. "They get one step up - and they are on their own."

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Filed under: Jeb Bush • President George W. Bush • Ron Paul • Ted Kennedy
soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    The era of BUSH is over with. Jeb will never step foot in the White House. His brother really screwed up any chance old Jeb had of running for office.

    August 10, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  2. yuri

    We are wonderin', now, about the Veep's wards. Seems like Cheney's daughter Liz is hoverin' around the political arena with some ulterior motives of mischief. Lord knows what she is upto.

    August 10, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  3. Matt in CT

    What a timely and relevant article, CNN. With everything going on in the world, THIS is a pressing item that you just had to include? What's next? Are we going to be dazzled with an expose on Calvin Coolidge, or something equally as riveting??

    August 10, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  4. J.P.


    EEEEEvil Bush doesn't exist anymore... now it's just your guy Barry, the economic-illiterate in chief.

    August 10, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  5. Tom Paine

    Hopefully the era of KENNEDY is over with.

    August 10, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  6. Chris - Denver

    We should have listened to Jesse Jackson in 2000 when he warned America to "stay out of the Bushes!"

    August 10, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  7. ran

    I really really hate this George Bush and all he did to our Great Nation.

    I know you never will CNN; but please stop showing his face especially not after I have eaten.

    August 10, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  8. Enlightened Voter

    Hasn't a bush destroyed this country enough, why would we want another destructive influence in the white house?

    August 10, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  9. Nini

    It is too soon for historians to judge what the history will say about this family.

    A historian should know that. Remember FORD?

    August 10, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  10. aria

    The Bush and Cheney names are political garbage, just as the GOP party has become the ins ane asy lum of politics.

    August 10, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  11. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    We should never have had to suffer through Bush Redux but we can blame the Supreme Court for 8 miserable and economy-crushing years.

    Personally, I would never vote for a child of any prominent politician. Enough is enough.

    August 10, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  12. Peoples Voice

    There is no greater shame than what the name Bush brings.

    August 10, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  13. Rob

    Come 2013 the two biggest political names to bring shame will be Obama and Pelosi. Heck, those names will bring shame to just about everything except communists, socialists, and lib-nuts.

    August 10, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  14. Republicans destroyed this country!

    I think we've had enough republicans and bush's to last a lifetime. Side note, I find it interesting that the repubs are attacking President Obama who is trying to clean up the mess left by their messiah bush.

    August 10, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  15. Gerald

    Three years of democrats in control of congress and seven moths as president has not been a day at the beach, Hope is not a plan. I would like to thank all the Bush family for their service to our country.

    August 10, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  16. Alex

    Bush sons are the Good example of American coruption of the power.
    I'm seating in dirt, no even money for food, but he, Bush-expresident, happy and wealthy and in good mood...!

    The my question: " Where's the my money, my job, my hope and my life now after your 8 years in power? May be in your packet?

    August 10, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  17. Claudia in Houson

    God help us recover from Bush's destruction and wars before we ever start talking about another Bush or family member in power.

    August 10, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  18. notfooledtx

    GW sure crapped on all the rest of the bush's futures. IF this country ever elects another bush – they deserve the incompetence that will soon follow.

    August 10, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  19. James Hunt

    Being a cousin to the Bush family is not something I am proud of. But yah cant change yer blood.

    August 10, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  20. Hawaii gal

    All of the Bush's are losers in my opinion. Daddy Bush did nothing while he was President, except fill the chair, and his son wrecked our economy and is responsible for an immoral and illegal war that has killed thousands of people. Jeb Bush could not be any better coming from that family of idiots.

    August 10, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  21. REG in AZ

    I don't see how the Bush name, now ruined by George W, could be of any help to the family. The pity is that it probably was up until after 2000 and a blatantly dishonest, arrogantly self-focused, irresponsible and unconscionable sociopath was elected president and we see what that cost us. Now they are trying to fluff over, without any family recognition but with the exact same personality traits, another 'puppet' to perform for the benefit of Special Interests and a select few in Sarah Palin. Heaven help us!

    August 10, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  22. Pat Dunedin Fl

    As a Floridian, anything name Bush is just plain stupid!!!!
    Bush ruined our Insurance system. Both Bushes should
    concentrate on their families. Jeb has a lot to do with his
    due to many incidents with wife and children .
    George left the country in the biggest mess. Both don't
    like to clean up after themselves!!!!!

    August 10, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  23. What about the wives?

    How about the Clinton name? Hillary made it all the way to an inch of the presidential nomination, is a former Senator and current Secretary of State. I know the article was speaking about offspring, but name value is name value.

    August 10, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  24. Linda B., Ga.

    I lived in Florida while Gov. Jeb Bush was the Gov. and he was a really good Gov. I have zero complaints about Jeb and I was a registered Dem. I voted for him in the General Gov. Election.

    Now "W" is another story.....I voted for him in the his 1st Pres. race (the first 2 years I wasn't sorry I did, but there after, ahem!) and certainly "did not" in his 2nd race.....

    August 10, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  25. Jesse

    Hopefully we are near the end of the scumbag Kennedy's. Most of them can't keep out the drunk tank now.

    August 10, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
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