January 6th, 2009
05:40 PM ET
14 years ago

Jeb Bush not running for Senate

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/06/art.getty.jeb.bush.jpg caption="Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says now is not the right time for him to return to elected office."](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.

Filed under: Jeb Bush • Popular Posts
soundoff (253 Responses)
  1. Proud American

    If Jeb still believes he can better serve his country as manager of their trailer park, who am I to disagree? Your country loves you Jeb

    January 6, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  2. Liz - Colorado

    Thank God, the "Nightmare" is almost over with the present BUSH...no more "nightmares" PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 6, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    Thanks for leaving all the comment

    So from what I gather....if your brother is an idiot that means you inherently are too

    With that type of thinking no wonder were in this mess

    We have no one else to blame but ourselves (I boguht

    If you seriously thought that one person created this mess than you deserve to be in this mess

    Hitler didnt kill start WW2 all by himself nor did Pol Pot kill all those people

    January 6, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  4. Kyle

    Just because George Bush Jr. is not everyone's favorite guy does not mean his entire family should be lumped in. George Bush Sr. did a good job for 4 years and Jeb has done a great job in Florida, time and time again. Him becoming a Senator would not be a horrible thing for this Country or for Florida.

    I think some people need to keep an open mind.

    January 6, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  5. Frank, Las Vegas

    Thank God! Hasn't our country had enough of the Bush's? Father and son both left the country in a shambles. Enough already. ENOUGH!

    As the saying goes, "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me". But three times, No Way!

    January 6, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  6. carol

    No more Bush's for now how wonderful.

    January 6, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |


    January 6, 2009 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  8. tiff of Lithia Springs

    It's ashame that "W" has tainted the family name. Then again Jeb is not Angel it was his state of Florida while Gov. that put "W" in place.

    January 6, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  9. Gil

    Thank God! My prayers have been answered! Gil

    January 6, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  10. MikeH

    There's always Neil Bush, who was involved with looting the Silverado Savings and Loan. He's a perfect Republican candidate, nutjobs like TCM will love him.

    January 6, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  11. Fred the moderate

    Good, we who suffered with him in Florida would have campaigened relentlessly to stop him! Jeb is dangerous. He left our state in total finacial ruin. He gave property tax breaks to the wealth (sound familour) and left the middle class to pay for it. Services are lost, education underfunded and much, much more! I was totally troubled when he, thinking he was in a room of fellow republicans, with no press there – told them "I have a devious plan to derail it if it passes" He was talking about the Class Size Amendment we the people of Florida passed by vote. Does lieing and decite run in that family? they think they are kings and have devine rights to rule. We in he was arrogant, pompous and nasty. He had the typical – my way or the highway attitude. we are trying to rebuild our country from the last bush, as we had to from the first. Our state is going to take a long time to recover too! We don't need an obstructionist in the Senate, we have enough of them already.

    No more bushes – ever!

    January 6, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  12. Meka


    Best news I've heard, since Nov. 4, 2008!

    January 6, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  13. Salt & Pepper

    His father made sure of it...

    January 6, 2009 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  14. Ernie in LA

    Praise the Lord.

    January 6, 2009 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  15. Florida Joe

    His request to have his last name changed must have been denied

    January 6, 2009 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  16. Zack Roberts

    Good News!! Hope he does not ever run for Prez. either, our country can not afford any more Bushs in Washington!!

    January 6, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  17. Ali Baba

    First, Jeb Bush is the one who should have been president. He is smart and did a good job as governor of Florida. W ruined it for him. I feel bad for Jeb. I think he would be a great senator.

    Too bad for us Republicans. George W. Bush along with the right wing evangelicals destroyed our party and destroyed the country. Now I will have to look at Obama, Reid and Pelosi for the next several years.

    January 6, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  18. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    No to Jeb. Not 2010, Not ever. No more Bushes on the Hill, enough is enough after GWB totally screwed our country.

    January 6, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  19. Floridian

    The Bushes found little reception to another one in public office. Many Americans (FL included) have had enough of the Bushes to last a lifetime.

    January 6, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  20. bob in LA

    He will run for president in 2012 however. It will be an easy field to enter given the track record of the current crop of perspective nominees. remember Palin is the current leader in the field!LOL

    January 6, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  21. clifford

    Perfect!! He is setting the stage for the 2012 Presidential defeat of Barack Obama. That's if Obama last that long!! Ole boy got lot's of baggage!

    January 6, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  22. Story about a man named Jeb

    Why dont he move with the rest of the Bush's to Saudi Arabia. Seems that is where most of their income comes from.

    January 6, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |

    God does indeed answer prayers!

    January 6, 2009 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  24. EddieTheHat626

    Jeb needs to climb back under the rock the rest of his family surfaced out from under and stay put!

    January 6, 2009 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  25. BB

    Wooooo Hoooo !!

    14 days and no more Shrubs.


    January 6, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
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