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. Lauren

    Let the Bush bashing begin,,

    January 6, 2009 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  2. tammy from miami florida

    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!!!!!

    January 6, 2009 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  3. Rumsfeld

    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.

    January 6, 2009 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  4. No Incumbents 2010

    @ renee
    Don't worry, you still have the Clintons. LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL

    January 6, 2009 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  5. BUSHED!!!

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says now is not the right time for him to return to elected office.***Good No more BUSHES !!!

    January 6, 2009 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  6. alvino


    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.

    January 6, 2009 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  7. DX in TX

    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!


    January 6, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  8. Lloyd Bentson's ghost

    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.

    January 6, 2009 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  9. Luke Brown, Charleston SC

    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.

    January 6, 2009 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  10. Cristine C.

    Let us all let out a big, collective sigh of relief...

    January 6, 2009 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  11. Dave, Central Illinois

    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.....

    January 6, 2009 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  12. Joe Smith

    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 ...

    January 6, 2009 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  13. Lloyd Bentson's ghost

    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.

    January 6, 2009 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  14. deb in Colo

    Good! I've had enough of the Bushes for a while!

    January 6, 2009 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  15. Big Dan in Michigan

    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.

    January 6, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  16. Student

    Too bad....how does that saying go? Cancer comes in threes? Not this time! Thank G0D

    January 6, 2009 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  17. Jon

    2 Bushes were 2 too many. I don't believe in this case the 3rd one would be a charm.

    January 6, 2009 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  18. Get Real

    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.

    January 6, 2009 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  19. lovable liberal

    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.

    January 6, 2009 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  20. kopana

    Thank the high and mightly for this good news!!!.........at least some one up there loves America..............................

    January 6, 2009 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  21. Student

    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

    January 6, 2009 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  22. Seattle Sue

    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.

    January 6, 2009 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  23. jim

    I have give up on anything with the name Bush,,Reggie Bush ,,Bush Beans

    January 6, 2009 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  24. Independent FL voter

    @ 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?

    January 6, 2009 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  25. Republicakkkan Party

    Thank you God!!

    January 6, 2009 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
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