Jeb Bush
Bush in March 2013
43rd Governor of Florida
In office
January 5, 1999 – January 2, 2007
LieutenantFrank Brogan
Toni Jennings
Preceded byBuddy MacKay
Succeeded byCharlie Crist
Personal details
John Ellis Bush

(1953-02-11) February 11, 1953 (age 71)
Midland, Texas
Political partyRepublican
SpouseColumba Bush
RelationsGeorge H. W. Bush (father)
Barbara Bush (mother)
George W. Bush (brother)
Prescott Bush (grandfather)
ChildrenGeorge P. Bush
Noelle Bush
John Ellis Bush, Jr.
ResidenceCoral Gables, Florida[1]
Alma materUniversity of Texas (Bachelor of Arts)
Real Estate Developer

John Ellis "Jeb" Bush (born February 11, 1953) is an American politician who 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; the younger brother of former President George W. Bush; and the older brother of Neil Bush, Marvin Bush, and Dorothy Bush Koch. Bush is the first and 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.[2] During his eight years as governor, Bush was credited with initiating improvements in the economy, environment, and health care, as well as reforming the education system.[3][4]

Early years

Jeb Bush was born in Midland, Texas. When he was six years old, the family relocated to Houston, Texas.

The origin of the name Jeb is his initials; Jeb is merely a direct pronunciation of J.E.B. (John Ellis Bush).[5]

Jeb initially attended Grady Elementary School in Houston.[6] Following in the footsteps of older brother, George, Jeb Bush attended high school at the private Massachusetts boarding school, Phillips Academy Andover. 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.

In 1973, Bush graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Texas at Austin with a BA in Latin American Studies. He completed his coursework in two and a half years.[citation needed]


After graduating from UT at Austin, Bush married Columba Garnica Gallo, on February 23, 1974. Their three children are George P. Bush, Noelle Bush, and John Ellis Bush, Jr. Their elder son, 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. Noelle Lucila Bush (born July 26, 1977, in Texas) graduated from Tallahassee Community College in 2000 and enrolled in Florida State University in 2001. John Ellis Bush, Jr., Bush's younger son (born December 13, 1983, in Miami), works for a Miami, Florida commercial real estate firm. In October 2007, he endorsed Rudy Giuliani for the 2008 Republican Presidential nomination, and supported the effort as chairman of "Florida Young Professionals for Rudy".[7]

Early career

Business experience in Texas and abroad

Bush went to work in an entry level position in the international division of Texas Commerce Bank, a job he received through James Baker, a longtime family friend and chairman of the board of Texas Commerce Bank. Bush assisted in drafting communications for the company's chairman, Ben Love.

In November 1977, he was sent to the Venezuelan capital of Caracas to open a new operation for the bank. Bush spent about two years there, working in international finance. He eventually worked for the bank's executive program.

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."

His father ultimately lost the Republican nomination for President that year, but was chosen to be Ronald Reagan's running mate. That fall, George H.W. Bush was elected Vice President of the United States, and won reelection in 1984. In 1988, the elder Bush won both the Republican Party's presidential nomination and the election, becoming the nation's 41st president. In 1992 Bush's father was defeated for re-election by then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton.

Business and lobbying experience in Miami

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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, IntrAmerica Investments Inc., to pursue opportunities in real estate.

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.

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.

In 1990, Bush interceded with his father, the president, to pardon Orlando Bosch, a Cuban exile whom Attorney General Dick Thornburgh called an "unrepentant terrorist." Bosch was released from prison and granted residency in the U.S.[8]

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/Bush administration vigorously and successfully on behalf of Recarey and IMC. "I want to be very wealthy," Jeb Bush told the Miami News when questioned during that period.[9]

Civic and charitable activities

After narrowly losing a 1994 election for Governor of Florida against Lawton Chiles, Bush pursued policy and charitable interests. 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. 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".[10]

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".[11]

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.[12] 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.[13] 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.[14] 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.[15]

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.[16]

Religious affiliation

In 1995, Bush converted from Anglicanism to Catholicism.[17] 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. The following is an excerpt from the speech:

"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."[18]

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]

Early campaigns

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Bush got his start in Florida politics as the Chairman of the Dade County Republican Party. 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. 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. He launched an unsuccessful bid for the Governor's office in 1994 against incumbent Democratic Governor Lawton Chiles. Bush run that year as a conservative ideologue, and a notable moment in this campaign was when Bush said that he would do "probably nothing" for African Americans if he gets elected.[19] 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)

1998 gubernatorial election

Main article: Florida gubernatorial election, 1998

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 portrayed himself as a "consensus-building pragmatist" and courted the state's moderate and Hispanic voters.[19] 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.

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. Four years earlier, he got 5 percent of the African American vote in a polarizing election against the popular Democratic incumbent Chiles, who was re-elected.[citation needed]

Chiles' sudden death on 12 December 1998 meant that MacKay was sworn-in as his successor. He held the position of Governor for 23 days until Bush was sworn-in to replace the man he had beaten.


Bush's administration was marked by a focus on public education reform. His "A+ Plan" placed a greater emphasis on standardized testing in Florida's public schools, eliminated social promotion for third grade students who scored the lowest achievement level on the state reading assessment, and established a system of funding public schools based on a statewide grading system using the FCAT test, an assessment created under his predecessor, Governor Lawton Chiles. 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. One program that has seen fruition is the Florida Virtual School, a distance-learning program that allows students in rural areas of the state to take Advanced Placement classes for college credit. However, his policies have also been 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".[20][21] Despite his opposition, the amendment passed;[22] Bush's subsequent suggestions that the amendment be repealed[23] have contributed to criticisms that he has failed to implement it in good faith. A similar concern about new expenditures has led to controversy over whether Florida has provided adequate resources to implement a subsequent voter-approved state constitutional amendment that requires a universal state-financed pre-Kindergarten program.[24]

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.[25] 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. North Miami Beach Attorney Larry R. Fleurantin, then a UF law student, on April 1, 2001, wrote an article in the Gainesville Sun challenging Florida Governor Jeb Bush's Talented 20 Plan, the educational component of "One Florida." In response to Attorney Fleurantin's article, on April 7, 2001, Bush wrote a column in the Gainesville Sun defending his "One Florida" policy.[26]


In May 2006, as part of an unprecedented $448.7-million line-item veto of state funding, Bush slashed 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.[27]

After months of controversy that included thousands of e-mails, petition signatures and hundreds of picketers at the State Capitol, the Florida House voted to ditch Bush's plan to give the biggest collection at the century-old State Library to Nova Southeastern University.[28]


Bush at Rookery Bay participating in Earth Day activities in 2004

Bush signed legislation to protect the Everglades and opposed federal plans to drill for oil off the coast of Florida. In early October 2005, Bush attempted to strike a compromise with fellow Republicans that would allow offshore drilling in an area that stretches 125 miles (201 km) off Florida's coastline and give the state legislature the power to permit drilling closer to the state's coastlines. The compromise was warmly received by some Florida Republicans and U.S. Congressmen, such as bill sponsor Richard Pombo, but has yet to be agreed upon; others including Republican U.S. Senator Mel Martinez, objected to any backtracking on the drilling moratorium.

Health policy issues

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 permitted the Governor to keep Schiavo on life support. 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.

After being vetoed by previous Governor Lawton Chiles, Choose Life, a pro-life advocacy group based in Ocala, Florida, submitted a specialty license plate application, which passed both houses and Governor Bush signed it into law on June 8, 1999.[29][30]

Bush oversaw 21 executions as Governor[31] (more than Graham, Martinez and Chiles while they were in office). Bush never agreed to commute any sentence.[32]

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.[33]

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.

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.

International trade

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.


Florida High Speed Rail

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.[34]

The rail system and its progressive 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 consoritum agreed to invest $300 million and utilize the DBOM functionality. The state of Floridat 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.[35]

The high speed rail project nearly came to fruition until Bush became governor in 1999 and ended the project his second day in office.[35]

In early 2004, Bush endorsed an effort to repeal the 2000 amendment that mandated the construction of the High Speed Rail System. On October 27, 2004, the authority voted to prefer the consortium of Fluor Corp. and Bombardier Transportation to build and operate the system, using Bombardier's JetTrain technology. However a month later in November, Florida voters repealed the 2000 amendment, removing the constitutional mandate for the system. Although the amendment was repealed, no action was taken by the state legislature in regard to the Florida High Speed Rail Authority Act. With the law still in effect, Florida's HSRA continued to meet, and completed the environmental impact statement for the Tampa-Orlando segment in 2005. With the constitutional mandate gone, however, funding for the project came to a halt and very little action was taken over the next several years.[34]

Parenting Coordinators

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.[36]

2002 gubernatorial election

Main article: Florida gubernatorial election, 2002

Before Bush's re-election, no Republican in Florida had ever been re-elected to serve a second term as the state's Governor. In addition, there was likely no precedent for any Governor to be branded by the opposition as its "Number One Target" for removal from office, as Bush was ranked in 2002. This was not merely a statewide effort to oust the Republican Governor, but a much-publicized goal of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and its highest leadership during the 2002 election cycle.


In the closely watched Florida Governor's race that attracted national attention, Bush was re-elected in November 2002. He defeated Democratic challenger Bill McBride with 56% to 43%, a greater margin of victory than in Bush's 1998 campaign for Governor. Bush also increased the number of counties in his victory column, winning several Florida counties for the first time. He campaigned throughout North West Florida, in Pensacola and Milton.

Bush won 80 percent of the Cuban vote in 2002 and 56 percent among non-Cuban Hispanics in 2002.[citation needed] As a longtime supporter of Israel,[37] he was endorsed in his two winning Governor races by a national Jewish publication, and won 44 percent of the state's Jewish vote in the 2002 race.[38] Bush also surprised critics by winning the white female vote in the swing-voting battleground of Central Florida's I-4 corridor.[39] However, Bush wasn't able to replicate the same success with African American voters (like he had earlier in 1998), he won only 8 percent of the African American vote in which many analysts felt was due to the controversial One Florida policy abolishing affirmative action and the 2000 Florida voting controversy.

However, in 2006, Charlie Crist would surpass Bush's unsurprisingly weak showing among African American voters from 2002, receiving 18 percent of the African American vote.

In January 2007, Bush became the second Florida Governor to complete two full four-year terms in office, the first being Democrat Reubin O'Donovan Askew.

Political future

Bush in 2013

Due to term limits under state law, Bush was unable to seek a third term as Governor. Some speculated that Bush would run against Florida's Democratic senator, Bill Nelson, in the 2006 U.S. Senate election, but he did not; the Republican candidate was Katherine Harris, who lost to Nelson.

Impact on his political party

Bush's appeal to Florida's highly diverse group of voters, along with his success in expanding the "big tent" of the Florida Republican Party (GOP), appear to have propelled him into a commanding political position.[according to whom?] Nationwide, American conservatives appear to be positive about Bush, seeing him as committed to upholding core conservative principles.[40]

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,[41] ending a 32-year streak of Democratic governors. In California, after Democratic Governor Gray Davis was ousted in a recall vote, Bush dispatched Florida's budget director[42] to that state to lead an independent audit of California's budget, at the request of the state's newly elected Republican Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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.[43]

Political interests and business activities

Bush has been active in the neoconservative think tank Project for the New American Century, whose stated goal is to promote American global leadership.

From 2004 to 2007, Bush served as a Board Member for the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB).[44] Created by Congress, this board's purpose is to establish policy on reports examining K-12 students' academic progress in America's public and private schools.

In April 2007, Jeb Bush joined Tenet Healthcare's board of directors.[45] The following August, Bush joined investment bank, Lehman Brothers, as an adviser in its private equity group.[46]

Bush as NFL commissioner

In May 2006, it was reported that Bush was privately approached to become the next commissioner of the National Football League.[47] 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 is 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".[48] Roger Goodell eventually became the new NFL commissioner.

Possible run for U.S. Senate, 2008

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.[49][50][51][52][53] But in January 2009, he announced that he would not run for the Senate.[54] Instead, he supported Marco Rubio for the position.

2012 presidential election

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.[55] In February 2011, after renewed calls were made for him to run for president,[56] Bush was asked whether the door remained closed on a Presidential run. "Yes", was his reply.[57] In July 2011, he reiterated his position that he was not running, although he was heavily critical of the Obama administration.[58] That month his son George urged him to join the 2012 primary.[59]

2016 presidential election

Bush has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the 2016 presidential election.[60] 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.[61]

Electoral history

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 2,856,845 56.01
Democratic Bill McBride 2,201,427 43.16


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Further reading

Political offices Preceded byBuddy MacKay Governor of Florida January 5, 1999-January 2, 2007 Succeeded byCharlie Crist Party political offices Preceded byBob Martinez Republican nominee for Governor of Florida 1994, 1998, 2002 Succeeded byCharlie Crist