Jeb Bush

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Jeb Bush
Jeb Bush by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Bush speaking at the CPAC in Washington D.C., March 16, 2013
43rd Governor of Florida
In office
January 5, 1999 – January 2, 2007
Lieutenant Frank Brogan
Toni Jennings
Preceded by Buddy MacKay
Succeeded by Charlie Crist
Personal details
Born John Ellis Bush
(1953-02-11) February 11, 1953 (age 61)
Midland, Texas, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Columba Garnica
Children George
Noelle
John Ellis
Alma mater University of Texas at Austin
Religion Episcopal (Before 1995)
Roman Catholic (1995–present)

John Ellis "Jeb" Bush (born February 11, 1953) served as the 43rd Governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007. He is the second son of former President George H. W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush, and is the younger brother of former President George W. Bush. Jeb Bush is the only Republican to serve two full four-year terms as Governor of Florida.

Bush grew up in Houston, Texas. He attended the University of Texas, where he earned a degree in Latin American affairs. Following his father's successful run for Vice President in 1980, he moved to Florida. In 1986, Bush was named Florida's Secretary of Commerce, a position he held until resigning in 1988 to help his father's successful campaign for the Presidency.

In 1994, Bush made his first run for office, narrowly losing the election for governor by less than two percentage points to the incumbent Lawton Chiles. Bush ran again in 1998 and beat Lieutenant Governor Buddy MacKay with 55 percent of the vote. He ran for reelection in 2002, and won with 56 percent, to become Florida's first two-term Republican Governor.[1] During his eight years as governor, Bush was credited with initiating improvements in the environment, as well as reforming the education system.[2][3] He was also responsible for ending the Florida high speed rail initiative.[4]

In 2014, Bush was frequently mentioned as a possible candidate for president in 2016.[5][6][7][8] On December 16, 2014, Bush announced his intention to explore the possibility of running for President.[9]

Early years[edit]

Jeb Bush was born in Midland, Texas. When he was six years old, the family relocated to Houston, Texas.[10] The origin of the name Jeb is his initials; Jeb is a direct pronunciation of J.E.B. (John Ellis Bush).[11]

He initially attended Grady Elementary School in Houston.[12] Following in the footsteps of older brother George, Jeb attended high school at the Massachusetts boarding school Phillips Academy.[13] At the age of 17, he taught English as a second language in León, Guanajuato, Mexico, as part of Phillips Academy's student exchange program. While in Mexico, he met his future wife, Columba Garnica Gallo.[14]

In 1973, he graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in Latin American Studies. He completed his coursework in two and a half years.[15] He is fluent in Spanish.[16]

Early career[edit]

Business experience[edit]

Bush went to work in an entry-level position in the international division of Texas Commerce Bank, which was founded by the family of James Baker.[17] In November 1977, he was sent to the Venezuelan capital of Caracas to open a new operation for the bank, where he served as branch manager and vice president.[18]

Bush returned to the United States to work without salary on his father's campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 1980, explaining:

I wasn't motivated for politics, I wasn't motivated because of ideology or anything. My dad's the greatest man I've ever met or will meet; I can predict that fairly confidently. It was payback time, simple as that.[19]

Business and lobbying experience in Miami[edit]

Following the 1980 presidential election, Bush and his family moved to Miami-Dade County, Florida. He took a job in real estate with Armando Codina, a 32-year-old Cuban immigrant and self-made American millionaire. Codina had made a fortune in a computer business, and then formed a new company, The Codina Group, to pursue opportunities in real estate.[20] In 1983, Jeb Bush explained his move from Houston to Miami: “On the personal side, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law were already living here", and on the professional side, "I want to be very wealthy, and I'll be glad to tell you when I've accomplished that goal."[21]

During Bush's years in Miami, he was involved in many different entrepreneurial pursuits, including working for a mobile phone company, serving on the board of a Norwegian-owned company that sold fire equipment to the Alaska oil pipeline, becoming a minority owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, buying a shoe company that sold footwear in Panama, and getting involved in a project selling water pumps in Nigeria.[22]

Codina eventually made Bush his partner in a new development business, which quickly became one of South Florida's leading real estate development firms. As a partner, Bush received 40% of the firm's profits.[22]

In 1990, Bush interceded with his father, the president, to pardon Orlando Bosch, a Cuban exile who had been convicted of firing a rocket into a Polish ship which was on passage to Cuba. Bosch was released from prison and granted residency in the U.S.[23]

Miguel Recarey, who ran International Medical Centres (IMC), employed Bush as a real estate consultant and paid him a $75,000 fee for finding the company a new location, although the move never took place. Bush did, however, lobby the Reagan administration vigorously and successfully on behalf of Recarey and IMC.[23]

Early campaigns[edit]

Bush got his start in Florida politics as the Chairman of the Dade County Republican Party.[24] Dade County played an important role in the 1986 election of Bob Martinez to the Governor's office. In return, Martinez appointed Bush as Florida's Secretary of Commerce.[24] He served in that role in 1987 and 1988, before resigning once again to work on his father's presidential campaign.

In 1989, he served as the campaign manager of Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the first Cuban-American to serve in Congress.[25] He launched an unsuccessful bid for the Governor's office in 1994 against incumbent Democratic Governor Lawton Chiles.[25] Bush ran that year as a conservative, and a notable moment in this campaign was when Bush was asked what he would do for African Americans if he gets elected, responding: "It’s time to strive for a society where there’s equality of opportunity, not equality of results. So I’m going to answer your question by saying: probably nothing."[26][27] Bush lost the election by only 63,940 votes out of 4,206,076 that were cast for the major party candidates (2,135,008; 50.8% to 2,071,068; 49.2%). In the same election year, his older brother, George, was elected Governor of Texas.

Governor of Florida (1999-2007)[edit]

1998 gubernatorial election[edit]

An earlier portrait of Governor Jeb Bush.

In 1998, Bush defeated his Democratic opponent, Lieutenant Governor Buddy MacKay, by over 418,000 votes (2,191,105; 55.3% to 1,773,054; 44.7%) to become Governor of Florida. He campaigned as a "consensus-building pragmatist".[27] Simultaneously, his brother, George W. Bush won a re-election victory for a second term as Governor of Texas, and the Bush brothers became the first siblings to govern two states at the same time since Nelson and Winthrop Rockefeller governed New York and Arkansas from 1967 to 1971.[28]

In the 1998 election, Bush garnered 61 percent of the Hispanic vote and 14 percent of the African American vote, a surprising showing for a Republican seeking statewide office.[29]

Education[edit]

Bush's administration was marked by a focus on public education reform. His "A+ Plan" established tough standards, required testing of all students, and graded all Florida schools. From 1998 to 2005, reading scores of 4th grade students in Florida on the National Assessment of Educational Progress increased 11 points, compared to 2.5 points nationally.[30]

Bush has been a proponent of school vouchers and charter schools, especially in areas of the state with failing public schools, although to date very few schools have received failing grades from the state. He established the McKay Scholarship Program which provides vouchers for students with learning disabilities to attend a school of their choice. He also established the A+ Opportunity Scholarship Program which provided vouchers to students. This program was struck down by the Florida Supreme Court in 2006.[30]

Bush was responsible for creating the Corporate Income Tax Credit Scholarship which provides corporations with tax credits for donations to Scholarship Funding Organizations which must spend 100% of the donations on scholarships for low income students.[30]

His policies were also driven by a firm refusal to raise taxes for education, which led Bush to oppose a ballot initiative to amend the Florida Constitution to cap growing school class sizes. Bush said he had "a couple of devious plans if this thing passes".[31][32] Despite his opposition, the amendment passed.[33]

In higher education, Bush approved three new medical schools during his tenure and also put forth the "One Florida" proposal, an initiative that effectively ended affirmative action admissions programs at state universities.[34] These moves were among the influencing concerns that led to the faculty of the University of Florida to deny Bush an honorary degree, while the University of Florida Alumni Association made him an honorary alumnus.[35]

Fiscal[edit]

While Governor, Jeb Bush reduced taxes by $19 billion, reduced the size of state government by 6.6 percent, vetoed $2 billion in new spending, and presided over Florida receiving the highest possible bond rating.[30]

In May 2006, as part of a $448.7-million line-item veto of state funding, Bush cut a total of $5.8 million in grants to public libraries, pilot projects for library homework help and web-based high-school texts, and funding for a joint-use library in Tampa.[36]

Environment[edit]

Bush at Rookery Bay participating in Earth Day activities in 2004

Bush signed legislation to restore the Everglades as part of an $8 billion project in conjunction with the federal government. He also set aside over one million acres of land for conservation as part of a land purchase program.[30]

Capital punishment[edit]

Bush oversaw 21 executions as Governor[37] (more than Graham, Martinez and Chiles while they were in office). Bush never agreed to commute any sentence.[38]

Bush also presided over switching from electric chair (the only method of executions until 2000, now optional) to lethal injection, after a botched electrocution of Allen Lee Davis (first inmate executed under his administration and last, to date, electrocuted in Florida). After two previous botched executions (Jesse Tafero in 1990 and Pedro Medina in 1997) Governors Martinez and Chiles along with legislature declined to change methods.[39]

While he is an advocate of capital punishment, Bush suspended all executions in Florida on December 15, 2006, after the execution of Ángel Nieves Díaz was seemingly botched. The execution took 37 minutes to complete, and required a second injection of the lethal chemicals.[citation needed]

Health policy issues[edit]

As Governor, Bush proposed and passed into law major reform to the medical liability system. The Florida Senate, a majority of which were Republican, sided with the trial lawyers against caps on non-economic damages. Bush insisted, and called the legislature into five special sessions. The contentious debate even included a senior Bush staffer calling for primary opposition to Republicans who disagreed with the Governor on the reforms. Eventually, the legislature agreed to the caps and Bush's reforms passed. Bush also passed a massive reform to Florida's Medicaid system. At the time, this reform was referred to as the most sweeping reform to Medicaid in its 45 year history. Also, Florida was the first state in the nation to publish hospital outcomes on the Internet, including cost and information on quality, infections and complications.[citation needed]

Bush was involved in the Terri Schiavo case, involving a woman with massive brain damage, who was on a feeding tube for over 15 years, and whose husband and legal guardian, Michael Schiavo, wished to remove the tube. This move was opposed by Terri Schiavo's parents in the courts. Bush signed "Terri's Law", legislation passed by the Florida legislature that authorized him, as Governor, to keep Schiavo on life support.[citation needed] The law was ruled unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court on September 23, 2004. That decision was appealed to the federal courts. On January 24, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case, thus allowing the Florida court's ruling to stand.[citation needed]

Choose Life, a pro-life advocacy group based in Ocala, Florida, submitted a specialty license plate application – previously vetoed by Governor Lawton Chiles – which passed both houses and was signed into law by Bush on June 8, 1999.[40][41]

International trade[edit]

Bush said one of the most important goals of his final two years as Governor was to secure the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) Secretariat for Miami.[citation needed]

Vetoes[edit]

Florida High Speed Rail[edit]

In 1995, the Florida state legislature created the High Speed Rail Authority (HSRA) and came up with a public-private partnership model. Government would build the system leveraging state dollars with federal funds and tax-free bonding. The private sector was to invest money in the project, help design and build the network, and be given the franchise to operate the trains (known as design-build-maintain-operate, or DBOM). Trains would be privately owned, similar to how the airline industry operates in a publicly financed airport.[42]

The rail system and its planning was estimated to cost $7–$8 billion. The Florida HSRA and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) reached an agreement with a consortium that included the Fluor Corporation and Bombardier Transportation. The consortium agreed to invest $300 million and utilize the DBOM functionality. The state of Florida would float state bonds, and FDOT would commit $70 million annually (increasing three percent yearly to account for inflation) to service the bonds for the next thirty years. Federal monies would pay for the interest on the bonds, and the state monies would satisfy the principal. When the high-speed railroad was running, operating surpluses would also be applied to the debt.[4]

The high-speed rail project nearly came to fruition until Bush became governor in 1999 and ended the project his second day in office.[4] State legislators reacted by adding the project on the 2000 ballot as a constitutional amendment which was ultimately passed by voters. The amendment directed Bush and legislature to start building the railroad system by 2003. Bush vetoed funding for both the project and the board, and led a high-profile campaign to repeal the constitutional requirement that mandated the construction of the high-speed system.[4][42] Voters repealed the constitutional amendment. Many who voted believed they were supporting the train, though in fact a "yes" vote was to approve the repeal.[4]

FDOT spokesperson Nazih Haddah commented that "the rhetoric was inflammatory and misleading. It was really exaggerating tactics that were used to defeat this. The financing and the project were sound. It really squandered a great opportunity for this state."[4]

Other[edit]

Bush was governor when his brother George W. Bush won an intensely fought election recount in Florida to become President. Jeb Bush recused himself from any official role in the recount.[43]

Parenting Coordinators[edit]

Bush vetoed a 2004 bill about court-appointed parenting coordinators because of his concern that the bill would not adequately protect families as they try to resolve their conflicts.[44]

2002 gubernatorial election[edit]

Bush defeated Democratic challenger Bill McBride in 2002 with 56% to 43%, a greater margin of victory than the 1998.

As a supporter of Israel,[45] he won 44 percent of the state's Jewish vote in the 2002 race.[46] Bush also won the white female vote in the swing-voting battleground of Central Florida's I-4 corridor.[47] However, he was not able to replicate the same success with African American voters (like he had earlier in 1998), winning only 8 percent of the African American vote.

Post-governorship[edit]

Bush in 2013

Impact on political party[edit]

Nationwide, American conservatives appear to be positive about Bush, seeing him as committed to upholding core conservative principles.[48] Outside of Florida, fellow Republican leaders throughout the country have sought Bush's aid both on and off the campaign trail. Bush's out-of-state campaign visits include Kentucky, where Republican challenger Ernie Fletcher appeared with Bush and won that state's governorship in 2003,[49] ending a 32-year streak of Democratic governors.

Bush publicly criticized the national Republican party for its adherence to ideology and partisanship on June 11, 2012. In provocative comments shared with Bloomberg View, Bush suggested that former Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush would "have had a hard time" finding support in the contemporary GOP.[50]

Political interests and business activities[edit]

From 2004 to 2007, Bush served as a Board Member for the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB).[51] Created by Congress, the board's purpose is to establish policy on reports examining K-12 students' academic progress in America's public and private schools. Since then Bush's education foundation has advocated for the Common Core State Standards Initiative.[52] In October 2013, referring to opponents of the standards, Bush said that while "criticisms and conspiracy theories are easy attention grabbers", he instead wanted to hear their solutions to the problems in American education.[53]

In April 2007, Bush joined Tenet Healthcare's board of directors.[54] The following August, Bush joined investment bank, Lehman Brothers, as an adviser in its private equity group.[55] Bush has also served on the board of InnoVida, Swisher Hygiene, and Rayonier and has served as an adviser to Barclays.[56]

As of 2014, Bush had received more than $2 million from his work for Tenet, a company that expects to receive $100 million in new earnings in 2014 because of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and that "aggressively encouraged Americans to sign up for insurance under the program...."[56] Bush has reportedly objected to the ACA at company meetings, but has kept his personal views separate from what is best for Tenet.[56]

In response to the congressional gridlock that had stalled the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, Bush called for passage of immigration reform.[57]

In April 2013, Bush authored a cover story for Newsmax magazine, arguing that America's entitlement system risked collapse unless there was a course correction in U.S. public policy. Bush touted a six-point plan to restore growth to the economy, including a key plank calling for more legal immigration. "A growth agenda is inextricably linked with a welcoming immigration policy", he wrote.[58]

In April 2014, Bush called illegal immigration an "an act of love", "an act of commitment to your family".[59]

Bush as NFL commissioner[edit]

In May 2006, Bush was privately approached to become the next commissioner of the National Football League.[60] This is said to be an interest of his, but it was unknown whether he would take the position. The former commissioner, Paul Tagliabue, announced that his tenure would soon be over and he was searching for replacements. "I'm flattered," Jeb Bush said May 24, 2006, of the NFL's interest, "but I'm Governor of the state of Florida and I intend to be Governor until I leave—which is January 2007. And I'm not going to consider any other options other than being Governor until I finish".[61] Roger Goodell eventually became the new NFL commissioner.

Possible run for U.S. Senate, 2008[edit]

In 2008, Bush indicated that he was considering running in the 2010 U.S. Senate race for the seat being vacated by Mel Martinez, who announced that he would retire at the end of his term.[62][63][64][65][66] But in January 2009, he announced that he would not run for the Senate.[67] Instead, he supported Marco Rubio for the position.

2012 presidential election[edit]

Throughout 2009 and 2010, rumors abounded that Bush would attempt to win the Republican nomination for the 2012 presidential election; rumors that he strongly denied from the beginning.[68] In February 2011, after renewed calls were made for him to run for president,[69] Bush was asked whether the door remained closed on a Presidential run. "Yes", was his reply.[70] In July 2011, he reiterated his position that he was not running, although he was heavily critical of the Obama administration.[71] That month his son George urged him to join the 2012 primary.[72]

2016 presidential election[edit]

Bush has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the 2016 presidential election.[73] When publicly asked at the Marin Speaker Series on February 7, 2013, Bush replied, "We'll make the decision at the proper time – at least a year from now."

At an April 16, 2013, press conference at Bluefield College, Bush said he is not considering a run now, and that he had not yet started a decision making process.[74] On October 2, 2014, George W. Bush said he thinks his brother Jeb "wants to be President."[75]

On December 16, 2014, Bush announced on Facebook that he would be "actively exploring"[76] a 2016 run to become President of the United States.

Family[edit]

In 1971 in León, Mexico, where he was teaching English as part of a foreign exchange program, Bush met Columba Garnica Gallo. They were married on February 23, 1974, in Austin, Texas.[77][78]

They have three children:

George Prescott Bush (born April 24, 1976, in Texas), went to Gulliver Preparatory School, studied at Rice University, and earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Texas School of Law. In the 2014 election, he was elected Commissioner of the Texas General Land Office.[79]

Noelle Lucila Bush (born July 26, 1977, in Texas) graduated from Tallahassee Community College in 2000 and enrolled in Florida State University in 2001. In the early morning hours of January 29, 2002, Noelle Bush was arrested for alleged prescription fraud for attempting to obtain Xanax at a Tallahassee pharmacy.[80] On July 15, 2002, Noelle was arrested at her court-appointed drug rehab facility, the Center for Drug Free Living, in Orlando, FL after workers found a "white, rocklike substance" they said they found in Noelle Bush's shoes. The substance later tested positive for cocaine, possession of which, in any amount, is a felony. [81] In 2003 Noelle undertook a court-ordered drug treatment program,[82] motivating her mother to be active in substance abuse programs.[83]

John Ellis Bush, Jr. (born December 13, 1983, in Miami), works for a Miami, Florida commercial real estate firm. In October 2007, the younger son endorsed Rudy Giuliani for the 2008 Republican Presidential nomination, and supported the effort as chairman of "Florida Young Professionals for Rudy".[84]

Religious affiliation[edit]

In 1995, Bush converted from Anglicanism to Catholicism.[85] For many years, he and his wife have attended the Church of the Epiphany, a Catholic parish located in Miami. Bush is a Third Degree Knight of Columbus according to an August 3, 2004, speech his brother, George W. Bush, made at the 122nd Knights of Columbus Convention in Dallas, Texas: "I'm proud to say that my family has contributed to your ranks. A few years ago, Governor Jeb became a Knight. And he—yes—and he recently took his Third Degree. I'll see him this weekend. His son is getting married. I'll pass on the word, aim for the Fourth."[86] In 2004, Jeb Bush (while still governor) was inducted into the Fourth Degree by Gary L. McLain at a ceremony held Nov. 1. Bush, a member of Father Hugon Council 3521 in Tallahassee, joined Father Hugon Assembly.[citation needed]

Bush has said that, during his tenure as Florida governor, although there were "some instances" of controversy, he "tried to act on my faith as best as I could".[87]

Civic and charitable activities[edit]

After narrowly losing a 1994 election for Governor of Florida against Lawton Chiles, Bush pursued policy and charitable interests.[citation needed] He started a non-profit organization called The Foundation For Florida's Future, a think tank that stated as its mission influencing public policy at the grassroots level.[citation needed] Jeb met with Noel Serrano, a member of the Latin Chamber of Commerce in 1991. Noel states, "Jeb was always a dedicated Public Servant long before he became Governor" He also "volunteered time to assist the Miami Children's Hospital, the United Way of Dade County and the Dade County Homeless Trust".[88]

Jeb Bush currently serves as co-chair of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, along with his sister Doro Bush Koch. Jeb Bush has also worked with The James Madison Institute, a free market public policy think tank based in Tallahassee, FL. He helped the institute in numerous ways and still has his think tank working in conjunction with it. In June 2008, Jeb's institute, the Foundation for Excellence in Education,partnered with JMI to hold a summit called "Excellence in Action: A National Summit on Education Reform".[89]

In 1996, The Foundation For Florida's Future published a book that Bush had co-written, Profiles in Character (ISBN 0-9650912-0-1), a clear parallel to John F. Kennedy's 1955 book Profiles in Courage. The foundation also published and distributed policy papers, such as "A New Lease on Learning: Florida's First Charter School", which Bush co-wrote.[90] Bush subsequently wrote the foreword to another book, published by the conservative Heritage Foundation and written by Nina Shokraii Rees, School Choice 2000: What's Happening in the States (ISBN 0-89195-089-3).

Bush co-founded the first charter school in the State of Florida: Liberty City Charter School, a grades K-6 elementary school.[91] The school was situated in Liberty City, a Miami neighborhood that was the site, in 1980, of the first major race riot since the Civil Rights era.[92] The school's co-founder, working alongside Bush, was T. Willard Fair, a well-known local black activist and head of the Greater Miami Urban League. The Liberty City Charter School was closed in 2008 after falling more than $1 million in debt.[93]

In 2000, Bush established the Points of Light program to recognize an "exemplary volunteer, organization, or person" such as Jimmy Rotonno of Our Father's House Soup Kitchen who won the award in 2003.[94]

Electoral history[edit]

Florida Gubernatorial Election 1994
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Lawton Chiles (incumbent) 2,135,008 50.75
Republican Jeb Bush 2,071,068 49.23
Florida Gubernatorial Election 1998
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Jeb Bush 2,191,105 55.27
Democratic Buddy MacKay 1,773,054 44.72
Florida Gubernatorial Election 2002
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Jeb Bush (Incumbent) 2,856,845 56.01
Democratic Bill McBride 2,201,427 43.16

Bibliography[edit]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Bob Martinez
Republican nominee for Governor of Florida
1994, 1998, 2002
Succeeded by
Charlie Crist
Political offices
Preceded by
Buddy MacKay
Governor of Florida
1999–2007
Succeeded by
Charlie Crist