August 10th, 2009
12:37 PM ET
5 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. Kevin in Ohio

    The name that makes me sick to my stomach is KENNEDY. Despite philandering, murder, and just plain ineffectiveness, they are still treated as Gods by the liberal press. And they just keep coming and coming......

    August 10, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  2. Pat

    Let's hope the Bush family never gets another member in the White House.

    August 10, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  3. Larry

    The Bush boys are a couple of monkeys with notes in their mouths

    Not worthy of ANY office in this country

    But it does show Americans, what money can buy ...

    August 10, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  4. Josh

    While not a son, you failed to mention Bob Taft making it to the gov. mansion after granddad was president.

    August 10, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  5. walleye

    How can you put John Adams and Bush together in the same sentence. Bush is a Four Letter word in this country.

    August 10, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  6. makesUwonder

    Never knew I would wish Bush was back in office, but I sure do now!

    August 10, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  7. TBA

    The name that brough shame to the family is George Walker Bush. Shame of a nation, shame of a family, for anyone with the last name Bush.

    August 10, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  8. GI Joe

    Dick Cheney was the worst president this country has ever had.

    Bush was his puppet. The illiterate mouth-piece that couldn't even speak proper English.

    August 10, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  9. Zero.

    I guess you finally found out the truth, about Barack Obama?
    You did'nt? Well never mind eh, wouldn't want to scare you too much.

    August 10, 2009 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  10. Aunt Bea and Opie

    Mud would be a better last name.hahaha

    August 10, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  11. Expat American

    Eventually Jeb Bush is going to toss his hat into the ring...It’s a given!

    He's just waiting for the right time. Right now it's too soon...2016 might still be too soon. Sarah Palin doesn't realize that she won't get the flower parade to the Republican nomination that she expects to receive.

    August 10, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  12. Rob Cloos Doosh

    Hopefully the era of BUSH is over with.

    August 10, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  13. Ivan

    I am very sick and tired at the decline and fall of CNN.

    August 10, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  14. Change_Has_Begun

    JEB will never set foot in the WH as POTUS. I give Gearge W. Bush credit – in that he fulfilled his fathers dreams even though it cost us all lot of lives and loads of money. We would have been better off hadn't the Bush family entered politics.

    August 10, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  15. Todd

    Even though I am POSITIVE that W ruined this country, it is a given that Jeb is the smartest one of this bunch. If Jeb has any brains he will stay out of politics.

    People complain about the Kennedy's?????? Give me a break!

    The Bushes have set this country back 50 years with the idiot's actions.

    I am POSITIVE that Coolidge is grateful wherever he is that is off the hook for being the worst President EVER and W's legacy will be that he was just an idiot who listened to idiots and acted like idiots.

    August 10, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  16. carlos, that one

    theyboth laughing at us..................but are the idiots in the picture?

    August 10, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  17. Accountant Guy

    I am so glad we finally got rid of that moron Bush, and I feel safe knowing no one is his family will ever be able to run our country after Bush destroyed it.

    August 10, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  18. carlos, that one

    CORRECTION

    ................but who are the idiots in the picture?

    August 10, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  19. Jay

    Safe to say the "Bush" brand is ruined for decades

    August 10, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  20. Rushcheneycan Whiners Need To Grow A Pair

    The name Bush is about as politically viable anymore as the name Palin.

    August 10, 2009 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  21. Nevada Joe

    The whole BUSH CRIME FAMILY belong in a Federal Prison locked down 23 hours a day and this includeds Laura....They are out and out thives.

    August 10, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  22. AJ

    Let's hope he's wrong about the Bushs. They are all disgusting, rotten human beings and really need to find a rock under which to reside.

    August 10, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  23. PT

    George W. Bush, mediocre in every aspect of his life, brought our country to it's knees. Hopefully, a smart man can get the country back on track.

    August 10, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  24. Hugo

    Plenty of blame for this debacle put also plenty of rewards for keeping us safe! You're right Chris in Denver, we should have listened to Jesse Jackson when he boasted of spitting in white people's food and taken strong note, just like we should have listened when Obama trashed the Boston Police to side with a Black man without any information and taken good note! This is the worst political era in my lifetime, can't wait until it is over. If you think Obama will be elected in 2012, you are out of your liberal minds!

    August 10, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  25. Zach K

    Two Adams, Two Harrisons, Two Bushes.

    Keep it at two, no more, no less.

    No More Bushes. Each time one of them leaves office, we inherit a defecit and a recession.

    August 10, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
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