A great deal of fuss has been made over speculation that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (yes, the brother of you-know-who) will run for the Sunshine State's open Senate seat in 2010. The conventional wisdom is that the Republicans would obviously just hand him the nomination and he'd be the odds-on favorite to win the seat in the general election.
Am I missing something here? Matt Stoller apparently isn't:
This track record has been compounded by the weirdness of Florida, which is Alabama in the north of the state, Cuba and New York in the south of the state, and the exurbs in the I-4 corridor in the Disney middle. Jeb's conservative politics play well in the north of the state, and have been pretty irrelevant elsewhere. Should he run for Senate, Jeb Bush will have an entirely different experience. If his opponent is Alex Sink, my guess is that he's going to have a really tough time. Sink is a wonderful and highly respected former banker who is now the state's chief financial officer. She's a very very strong opponent, and Bush's background as a semi-corrupt businessman who participated in a scheme to, get this, sell water pumps in Nigeria, will emerge.Jeb served two terms as governor in Florida and is still very popular there. But there's something else at play here: has anyone caught his last name? This is how it's spelled:
B U S H
...as in, "I share genetic material with the guy who's currently in the Oval Office. Yes, him. The least popular president... um, ever, basically."
Florida's blue right now, it's been red for a while before that, though its Republican governor is pretty much moderate (also probably gay). That makes Florida purple. Can a Bush still win in a purple state, even a popular Bush whose first name isn't George?
I don't know. All I know is, John McCain used to be the most popular politician in America and he lost the modern battlegrounds of not just Florida, but Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Mexico and New Hampshire, not to mention usually Republican states like Colorado and Nevada, and that's before we even talk about always Republican states like Indiana, North Carolina and Virginia (!!!!!).
Obviously, Senate and presidential races are very different, and in 2010 George W. will have been out of power for over a year and a half. But I just don't see the toxicity of the Bush "brand" (like anyone would buy such a thing) dissipating within the near future. Is 2010 too soon? At this stage, I'd bet that it is.
However, there is a George P. Bush (Jeb's son) who is wealthy, smart, well-connected, good-looking and part-Hispanic (his mom's side), so maybe, I dunno, 2024? If the Bushes can wait that long?