Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

US Senate free-for-all in Florida

Jeb Bush’s announcement that he will not seek the seat of retiring US Senator Mel Martinez in 2010 should set the stage for a free-for-all in both parties.

Expect Alex Sink, provided she wants a DC role, to emerge as the front-runner on the Democratic side. Rep. Allen Boyd has made no secret of the fact that he would like to run and several other Democrats are likely to jump in. Sink; however, is the front-runner. And, without Jeb Bush on the other side, Sink should emerge as a strong favorite in the race.

The Republican field will most likely blow up in the next few months as various hopefuls vie for position. Attorney General Bill McCollum fancies himself a US Senator, so you should expect to see him jump in relatively soon. Never mind all that Clinton impeachment stuff and his two failed prior bids, he thinks he can win it this time. (Let’s see if he picked up any of Charlie Crist’s abilities to turn the Attorney General’s Office into a PR machine.) Former Speaker of the House Marco Rubio might have stepped aside for Jeb Bush (Bush is viewed as his mentor), but he harbors no sense of loyalty to McCollum. He has his sights set on grander things (he’d really like to challenge Crist in the Gubernatorial Primary, but doesn’t think the GOP would be keen on it, even though many view Crist as too moderate.) and would love to be Florida’s second Cuban-American Senator. US Rep. Connie Mack could make a great candidate, but he gives the impression that he entered politics because of his name, not necessarily because he has a passion for campaigning. Other Republicans to watch: washed up former CFO Tom Gallagher, former Lt. Governor Toni Jenning, US Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite and yes, attention-loving Governor Charlie Crist.

We are gonna have a real race, folks. Buckle up.


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Poppy Bush on “President” Jeb

Poppy Bush appeared on Fox News Sunday today to talk about Jeb and his opportunity to become a US Senator, among other things.  Poppy thinks Jeb would make a great US Senator (if he were to win Mel Martinez’ seat, that is).  But the bottom line is Poppy thinks Jeb should run for President.  Poppy did temper his enthusiasm for Jeb’s potential Presidential run, however, by saying the timing was bad as there had probably been enough Bushes in there.  Even Poppy recognizes when you’ve gone to the well one time too many.

Filed under: Florida, Florida Legislature, Florida Politics, , , ,

Jeb Bush: plusses and minuses for any run for the U.S. Senate

5 reasons he should not run and 5 reasons he should run according to Adam Smith of the St. Pete Times.

Why Bush should pass

1. Because he’s Jeb Bush. Anybody who watched him govern Florida knows that Bush, 55, has zero patience for the kind of give and take and dealmaking that effective legislating requires. For an impatient executive who lives to take big ideas and implement them yesterday, being a junior member in the Senate’s minority party would be akin to moving into one of Dante’s circles of hell.

2. He’s got some ’splaining to do. When Jeb Bush left office in 2006, about 60 percent of Florida voters were saying he did a good or excellent job, and to this day he can bask in a reputation as one of the strongest governors in modern history. But given the dismal state of Florida today, that image could be dented in a heated Senate race with Bush facing hard questions about what he did and didn’t do to stave off the crises in property insurance, property taxes and the overall economic meltdown inherited by his successor, Charlie Crist.

3. Bush already is an icon. He apparently wants to be the conservative to lead his beleaguered party out of the wilderness, but he doesn’t need the Senate seat to do that. He has a stature few others do even out of office and, if he so chooses, can be a leading voice for reform and bold ideas for restoring the GOP. Joining 99 other Washington politicians in the Senate could actually diminish Jeb to mere mortal status in his party.

4. George W. Bush. Few people loathe Freudian psycho-babble and calls for introspection as much as does Jeb Bush. Does he really want to spend the next few years relentlessly facing comparisons to and questions about his brother, the ex-president, and speculation about his deep-seated motivations? Because that would be his fate, not just during the campaign, but during his tenure in Washington.

5. Business deals. The former governor doesn’t like reporters much, but he especially doesn’t like reporters asking about his moneymaking and potential conflicts of interest. Senate candidate Jeb Bush would face a host of questions about who paid for his speaking gigs at home and abroad, what he said, and what he did/does on his assorted corporate boards, some of which did business with the state while Bush was governor.

Why Bush should run

1. Because he’s Jeb Bush. Jeb would never be just another one of 100 U.S. senators, any more than Hillary Rodham Clinton was. By virtue of who he is and what he’s already accomplished in office, Bush would be stand out as a giant political force from Day 1 in Washington.

2. Public service is in his DNA. There is simply no way someone as passionate about public policy as Bush feels fulfilled biding his time on corporate boards and doing development deals, or whatever it is his mysterious firm, Jeb Bush & Associates, does. Given the deep and complex challenges facing the country, it is the perfect time to add to Washington a leader with the energy, intellect and curiosity that a Sen. Bush would bring to bear.

3. His party needs him. The national Republican Party faces today a profound leadership vacuum, lacking a coherent message or direction. Bush has impeccable conservative credentials, a personal appeal to crucial Hispanic voters and a knack for the kind of ambitious, new ideas missing from the GOP in Washington lately.

“There is an opportunity in the Republican caucus for a leader with skill, vision, command of the issues and a commitment to conservative principles (although Bush could stand to reconsider his advocacy of amnesty for illegal immigrants),” National Review recently wrote, urging Bush to run. “He has the right blend of ideas, and the temperament, to join the ranks of such senators as Phil Gramm and Barry Goldwater — standard-bearers who helped rejuvenate conservatism and the party that remains its principal instrument.”

4. The presidency. If Bush still harbors any thoughts about being the third Bush in the White House, the Senate could be his last, best opportunity for a launching platform. The Senate would put Bush in the center of the major debates facing our country, as well as giving him an opportunity to enhance his foreign policy chops leading up to 2012 and 2016.

5. Regardless of which Democrat winds up with the U.S. Senate nomination, Bush probably would win.

Filed under: Florida Politics, , , , , ,

Jeb! to decide this weekend on Senate run

The St. Pete Times says the decision will come this weekend:

Jeb Bush will decide over the holidays whether or not to seek the U.S. Senate seat that Republican Mel Martinez will vacate after 2010. If he runs, Bush will likely clear out the Republican field of candidates, and he would immediately turn a toss-up Senate seat into one leaning Republican.

Filed under: Florida Politics, , ,

Jeb Bush vs. Alex Sink

Is it a race to replace Mel Martinez?  

Jeb Bush:

A July 2008 St. Pete Times article wondered if Jeb would seek political office again.    Looks like the St. Pete Times was right on the money as Jeb has now announced he’s seriously considering a run for Martinez’ US Senate seat.  With all the talks he had been giving about the education system, the numerous non-profits he started that many felt were to keep his political base and staffers in place, and the secrecy surrounding his low-profile but extremely public entrepreneurial makeover, rumors had flown that he could be in line to be in the Presidential circle as Education Secretary if John McCain won the Presidential race.  With McCain losing, Jeb has had to set his sights just a little lower.  Now Jeb has been named to sit on the Board of Jacksonville’s Rayonier Inc. for $40,000 a year.  Quite a plum, as Rayonier is a Republican-leaning international timber, real estate, and performance fiber company.  That will certainly re-establish his NE Florida connections (recall that his son went to Bolles while Jeb was Governor) and gain him the favor of Jacksonville’s Republicans.  Connections he’ll desperately need to run for the US Senate now that Florida went blue in the last Presidential election. 

Alex Sink:

Will she or won’t she?  Seems Alex has had mixed feelings about whether or not she wanted to give up her position as Florida’s Chief Financial Officer.  Quite frankly, who wouldn’t want to give up that position right now with Florida staring down the sights of a $2+ billion deficit that’s projected to balloon to somewhere around $4 billion next year?  Democrats have been pushing her to run for Governor in 2010, but again who in their right mind would want to have to stare down that huge deficit facing Florida.  Now that Martinez has seen the writing on the wall and announced he doesn’t intend to seek the seat, Alex has again been publicly expressing her interest in running for his seat.  Alex is a wildly popular Democrat – even among Republicans.  Could Alex take a race with Jeb?  She’d certainly be the Democrat candidate that could give him a run for his money.

Other candidates who have expressed an interest:

Republicans:  Bill McCollum, Allen Bense, Marco Rubio, Vern Buchanan, Connie Mack IV, and Adam Putnam.

Democrats:  Allen Boyd, Kendrick Meek, Dan Gelber, and Ron Klein.

Not a NE Floridian among them. 

Stay tuned.

Filed under: Florida Politics, Jacksonville, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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