Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is weighing a run for the Senate seat currently held by Republican Mel Martinez.
Considered one of the most successful governors in Florida history, Bush is likely to squeeze out much of the Republican field in the Sunshine State if he enters the race. He’s a staunch conservative popular with the Republican base, speaks fluent Spanish, and is a mainstay in Miami’s conservative Cuban exile community. He’s also an enormously successful businessman who can build a campaign war chest with a few phone calls.
Martinez announced Tuesday that he will not seek reelection in 2010. Asked whether he was interested in running for the seat then, Bush told Politico by e-mail Tuesday night: “I am considering it.”
A source close to Bush also told Politico that he'll be “thoughtful and methodical about the decision-making process.” As the brother of the president, Bush will consider the impact a race would have on his family and his business.
He also must consider whether or not the U.S. Senate is the best forum from which to continue his advocacy for issues such as education, immigration and GOP solutions to health care reform.
Something else on his short list: as an obvious presidential possibility for 2012 in a field that includes Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, among others, Bush would have to weigh how a Senate seat might help him. Inevitably, he will be asked to make some sort of vow in the course of a Senate race. Would he vow to sit out his first term? He’s young enough that he’ll still be a contender in 2016 and beyond, so that might not be a factor.
In a wide-ranging interview with Newsmax last week, the popular former governor and younger brother of President George W. Bush said the 2008 election was neither “transformational” nor a landslide. For example, he noted that Barack Obama's significant fundraising advantage over John McCain played a key role in Democratic success this year.
Bush urged Republicans not to abandon their core conservative principles in favor of a "Democratic-lite" agenda. Still, the GOP does need to do some real soul-searching, he said.
“If you take the [last] two election cycles, there’s real cause for concern, no question about it,” he said.
Most importantly, Bush said, the party must confront the nation’s changing demographics.
“We can’t ignore large segments of our population and expect to win,” Bush said. “We can’t be the ‘old white-guy’ party. It’s just not going to work, the demographics go against us in that regard.
Since Martinez's announcement Tuesday, Bush has received many phone calls and emails from Floridians and national Republicans urging him to run, the source close to him told Politico.
But he's in no hurry to decide, said a top adviser, and won't make a decision until after the new year.
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