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.

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soundoff (253 Responses)
  1. BJ

    Jeb Bush singlehandedly ruined the state university system in Florida. With the collusion of dittoheads in the legislature, he broke apart the 11 universities and left them beholden to local boards composed of rich barbarians with political clout. Good riddance to him and his ilk.

    January 6, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  2. John Starnes Tampa Florida

    Jeb....the main reasons we ARE in turbulent times is YOUR brother and YOUR party sabotaging America for eight years. May I live a long and healthy life without seeing a Bush in Washington ever again. Starting with your grandfather creating your family's wealth by selling weapons to the Nazis even as our soldiers fought them bravely in Europe, then to your family whisking the Saudi royal family out of the US after their son Bin Lden attacked us on 9-11, to your brother's inept leadership and immoral and illegal attack on Iraq, the Bush family has been bad news for America. Just sit back and be content, all of you, to count your ill-gained wealth and let this nation begin to heal.

    January 6, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  3. Arkansas Undertaker

    He aint running for President either, because we learned our lesson from electing 2 previous Bushs as well........


    January 6, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  4. boered1

    I agree john rico run for president in 2012 give the republicans a chjoice between the idiot palin and the powerhungry bushes they will go into catatonic comas trying to make that decision!


    January 6, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  5. tageis

    People he would be 1 of 100 senators. Wake up! I am sorry but some of you need to stop blaming Bush who made mistakes but also look to yourself. Do you want the government to give you everything? What happened to personal responsibility and drive? I don't want the government's help – I want them to stay out of my way.

    January 6, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  6. BWB

    The Bush stench in politics is still too strong. He needs to be quiet and in the background for a while until the stupid voters want some more of the Bush crap in national politics. He saw Florida go Demo in the last election and that is still in the voters minds.
    He'll run in 6. The wind will have had the time to blow the smell out to sea.

    January 6, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  7. jr a disgrace to our country

    You can thank your ...brother for that bold...decision.!!

    January 6, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  8. veh

    Bush's administration is leaving, just getting away from the crimes it has committed. When a regular person steals he goes to jail for years. Here is a team of people destroyed the country, people's life and they are getting away? Where is a justice? Bush needs to be punished. He and his team have to pay back.

    January 6, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  9. John D.

    If that any member of that in-bred Kennedy clan can hold a public office – ANYBODY CAN!!!!

    January 6, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  10. edex


    January 6, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  11. Annie, Atlanta

    Given the political climate and his last name, this is probably a good idea for now.

    January 6, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  12. Leigh

    Finally a great uplifting article. No Jeb Bush has made my day!

    January 6, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  13. Show Thrower

    What happen did someone mistake him from George W and throw a shoe at him and he didn't duck

    January 6, 2009 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  14. Gregg

    The sad thing about it is that Jeb is far and away the more capable of the Bush brothers. Unfortunately, his brother has ruined his chances – at least in the near term.

    January 6, 2009 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  15. Barbara

    Jeb is right not to run. The world just could not face another Bush. Sorry, Jeb!

    January 6, 2009 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  16. Funny Little Ciggarettes

    That's Smart.

    We don't wan't no more stinkin' Bushes!

    January 6, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  17. Terry

    Conservatism is down but not out. They are well funded and they will be back. All patriotic Americans have a duty to not elect another Conservative ever. Those people got us into the mess we are in, and they have done it before.

    Conservatism is down but not out. Every good American must oppose every Conservative candidate and every Conservative idea.

    January 6, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  18. jennifer

    TCM you pop up all over the place. seems like chicken little is still playing havoc with your mind. I'm sure there is some medicine you can take for this. Be a good fellow, go away to an imaginary forest, with an imaginary gun and shoot imaginary foe. In a few days you might have some company, GW and the ex-veep. What fun you will all have.

    January 6, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  19. Peter TX

    there is a God in heaven

    January 6, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  20. if only

    if only the village idiot from Texas had done the same.

    January 6, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |

    thank you for not! and with that you're doing a service to this country :p

    January 6, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  22. TCM

    Help. I am a pathetic loser sitting here in my parent's basement who has nothing better to do.

    January 6, 2009 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  23. Jaime H.

    I think that him is the brightest of the Bushes clan. That being said, also the apple doesn't fall far away from the tree... So, I would be able to give him a break from public life ... (and should you GOPers.!)

    January 6, 2009 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  24. Bobby

    What is wrong with all of you? Everyone is so mean and nasty that writes in. We should show respect to all our elected officials and wish them all well, pray for them and maintain our personal dignity. Even in an anonymous blog. most of you people are mean and show your lack of intellegence. If you don't like the bushes don't vote for them. If you don't want others to vote for them then express it in a way that people will respect your opinion. "Thank God for no more Bushes" that just makes peolpe want to vote for them more.

    January 6, 2009 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  25. MikeH

    Now Anonymous, TCM is not "A Little Idiot", That's George Bush's title.

    TCM is, er... special. They let him out of his dormitory on good behavior, so now he's sitting at an internet terminal in the activity room typing his drivel.

    Soon, one of the Orderlies will come and take TCM back to his dormitory room.

    January 6, 2009 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
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