Fmr. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 2013 CPAC
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (CC-By-SA 2.0)
Fmr. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 2013 CPAC Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (CC-By-SA 2.0)
Fmr. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 2013 CPAC
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (CC-By-SA 2.0)

If you just heard from establishment Republicans you’d hear how everybody loves former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, that he’s shaking things up with his announcement that he is “seriously exploring” a presidential campaign and he’s a frontrunner.

I was quite amused with the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier’s coverage of his announcement.

“This is news,” said Gov. Terry Branstad of Iowa, where the first votes will be cast in January 2016 caucuses.

What a profound quote!  Then the “insiders” (i.e. moderate establishment) were surprised according to James Lynch and Rod Boshart.  Why?  He’s been eluding to it.  We are just a little more than a year out from the Iowa Caucus.  He’s discussed with the media before that he was considering a run.  Well he’s discussed it because they kept asking him.

Anyway if you are surprised then you haven’t been following the news.  I would have been surprised if he didn’t announce.

You also get a glimpse of who Tim Albrecht would like to work for next.

By making his intentions known this early, Bush automatically becomes a frontrunner, if not the frontrunner, according to Tim Albrecht, a veteran of numerous Republican campaigns.

“By getting in early he will shake up the field and influence the time line of other candidates,” Albrecht said.

Bush’s announcement likely will force some other candidates’ “would-be supporters to make decisions about who they’ll back.”

Unless you’re already inclined to vote for the guy it’s unlikely many people will jump on the bandwagon this early.  Also, I doubt this impacts the timeline that much.  Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said he would be making his decision after the holidays.  Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum likely will have a decision soon as well.  I’d suspect most will wait until late winter or spring before jumping in and we will have a few stragglers – we always do.  I don’t see Bush getting in pushing the timeline much earlier, if at all.  But he does have a very eager prospective communications director available.

As far as Bush being “a frontrunner or the frontrunner.”  Right now Bush has 4.4% Real Clear Politics average lead over his prospective competitors (not including Romney) in what will be a crowded field.  It’s December 2014 those polls are absolutely meaningless.  Lynch and Boshart’s article titled to establishment Republicans.  The Des Moines Register’s Jennifer Jacobs’ coverage was more balanced with reactions from Bob Vander Plaats of The FAMiLY Leader and Sam Clovis.  The establishment folks she talked to were excited about a Bush candidacy.

Former Iowa GOP Chair Matt Strawn told Jacobs, “Governor Bush would be an exciting candidate if he ultimately chooses to run.”

“In addition to near universal name recognition among voters, he would enter the race with the record of an accomplished chief executive who kept taxes low, improved schools and reduced the size of government in his state,” Strawn added

Certainly he has a record to run on, and he’ll make his case to Iowans when he comes to visit.  Outside of his education policy I don’t really know all that much about his record as Governor.  I do know he’s the genesis of the high-stakes testing culture that exists in Florida which is causing problems now.  His support of Common Core is also problematic.

“Governor Bush was one of the nation’s most innovative and effective governors, with a conservative record of success in Florida,” said David Kochel, Romney’s Iowa strategist in 2008 and 2012, told Jacobs. “He’ll be a formidable candidate if he chooses to run.”

Kochel isn’t my barometer for what conservative record looks like.  I even wonder if he knows what the word means.  Did Bush do some conservative things in Florida, sure.  Does that make his entire record a conservative one?  Iowans will be able to be the judge.

Iowa GOP Chair Jeff Kaufmann made a reasonable comment to Boshart and Lynch which tempers the remarks made by Strawn and Kochel.  “Everybody knows the name, but they don’t know Jeb Bush.  He’s starting from scratch,” Kaufmann said.

Yes he is.  If he is the lone establishment candidate here in Iowa he can gain some traction.  If the 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney decides to run again or New Jersey Governor Chris Christie jumps then not so much.  It would be nice to see the moderate/liberal/establishment vote split up for a change.  Bush’s best chance would be for no other establishment jump in and for the conservative vote be split from the field being crowded.

Honestly though, any reasonable person who is watching voter sentiment and issue polling should know that he has some huge obstacles to over come not just here in Iowa, but every state he campaigns in.  His support for Common Core and amnesty will be deal breakers for many Republicans, and contrary to what some in the media will tell you, it won’t just be Tea Party conservatives.

Establishment Republicans love Jeb Bush, the rest of us not so much.

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