Is Jeb Bush the “adult” that improves Florida’s national reputation?

187px-Jeb_Bush_2013_CPAC_by_Gage_Skidmore1Florida politically has had another complicated week. Attorney General Pam Bondi was sworn in for a second term after conducting a campaign in the courts against marriage equality that would have made the late Jerry Falwell proud. Senator Marco Rubio has continued to give bizarre and contradictory interviews to whomever will listen and write about him. Congressman Ted Yoho and Dan Webster both made quixotic and embarrassing runs for Speaker of the House while newly-elected Congresswoman Gwen Graham made a bid this week to create a caucus of one off the reservation Democrat in Congress.

By comparison, Jeb Bush looks like a breathe of fresh air, someone who can make Florida look partially sane again. Reubin Askew or Lawton Chiles he is not. He isn’t even Charlie Crist caliber, but he is looking like the adult in the room compared to some of the other “leaders” Florida is producing of late. This isn’t the 1960’s, 1970’s or 1980’s when Florida produced countless high-caliber potential national stars. Instead this is the 2010’s, where Florida’s politics is viewed nationally as a subject of ridicule and fodder for nightly comedy shows.

My views on Jeb Bush’s Governorship are well established and documented. I believe he is the worst modern Governor this state has had. Far more petty and ideological while in office than either Bob Martinez or Rick Scott, Bush’s Governorship transformed Florida into the borderline embarrassing state it has become politically. But Bush suddenly is looking like an adult even though the changes he ushered in for this state have led to a generation of petulance and selfishness in our politics.

Today Bush is strangely sounding like a real grown up, not the arrogant, vengeful ideologically-motivated governor of Florida he once was. Like Ronald Reagan he is tapping into optimistic themes and sounding strangely reasonable. This of course ends when it comes to school “choice” where he still seeks to experiment on Florida’s school kids, using his allies in the legislature to push a dangerous anti-public school agenda. He also is trying to tow as closely to the right on social issues as possible, but is doing so in a less angry and aggressive manner than many of his fellow Republicans.

On immigration, Bush has not tried to parse his words and hedge the way Marco Rubio recently has. Bush’s immigration rhetoric might cause him problems in a primary but also could be a national game-changer should he be nominated. As more and more Hispanics support Democrats all over the country because of this issue over all else, Bush looks increasingly attractive to the party’s establishment wing who is a Presidential election away from total control of the national scene.  Republicans now hold a record number of State Legislative chambers around the country and over thirty Governorships, so a Presidential victory could bring sweeping changes to the nation.

A few of Bush’s other new hopeful themes will likely run into trouble with the Tea Party. Included in these are his support of Common Core standards and his continued efforts to strike a more moderate tone on budgetary issues. But looking like a responsible, mature adult who can govern connects him both to his families legacy (Iraq War notwithstanding) and the establishment governing wing of the GOP. At the same time his push on social issues may neutralize some of the concerns among Tea Party types.

Bush’s credibility among Latino voters will give him an opportunity were he nominated in 2016 to reverse the growing Democratic lock on the electoral college. Demographics have turned heavily against the GOP and a Bush nomination may be the easiest way for the party to temporarily stop the bleeding among Hispanics.

For years the Republicans have been a hierarchical party, where insurgent candidates generally fizzle out. That would seem to favor Bush. But being an adult in the room, even if his record as Governor was one of an ideological zealot is a dangerous thing in today’s GOP. But from Florida’s perspective, Bush appearance of maturity and reasonable rhetoric could help change the image of our state which seemingly gets worse by the month.

15 comments

  1. Tampa Bay Demo · · Reply

    You drunk buddy???

    Like

  2. Broward Voter · · Reply

    Interesting thoughts. I wonder if Rubio wants to be a spoiler.

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  3. It’s unfair to hit Graham. Pelosi and the stands the democrats take are too liberal for her district. She’s been elected to solve problems and has given us a road map for where we need to go as a party. She’s going to be around longer and create more positive for our party than just about anyone in the state. She’s not able to support the leftist and ineffective Pelosi in her district.

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    1. You should go back and look at Pete Peterson’s voting record. I guess he was too liberal for the district even though he never had a truly close race and survived the Republican wave in 1994 easily. If anything, Tallahassee and the surrounding counties have gotten more liberal since. Yes the western part of the district is rough, but she’s never going to do that well in Bay County and probably cannot win any new votes in Jackson, Calhoun or Washington even with these ridiculous votes.

      Casting a vote against Pelosi with her first action as a member really isn’t acceptable for a candidate who had tons of party and institutional support..

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  4. Gwen Graham won’t be around long if she keeps voting in favor of special interests and against her constituents. Her vote to support Keystone XL to help Canadian oil companies and her vote to weaken Dodd-Frank to help Wall Street are not the way to appeal to North Floridians. If the GOP runs a strong candidate, they’ll take the seat back in 2016.

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    1. I agree 100% and am writing more on this later in the week.

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    2. And regarding 2016, it should be noted CD-2 tends to perform better for Republicans in Presidential years which is the opposite of the rest of the state.

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  5. Blue Dog Dem · · Reply

    The shot at Gwen Graham is unmistakable and unforgivable.

    Your ilk have driven the Democratic Party off the cliff. Graham is the type if person who is keeping erstwhile Democrats from switching parties. But you probably want to cleanse the party anyhow.

    Her win shows the path forward for Florida Democrats. Sadly you and others on the left want to kick and scream NO!

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    1. I am more pro-rural southern Democrat than just about anyone. But the rural southern Democrats I looked up to like Wright Patman, Jim Folsom, etc were populists who didn’t side with Wall Street. Regardless of the view of these folks on social issues, those like Carter Glass enacted real measures to help curb the excesses of banks and the monied classes of folks from the north.

      Need I remind you Wall Street and the big banks have done more to screw the rural south than anyone?

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  6. Concerned Democrat · · Reply

    Graham is just representing her distirct. Or at
    least that is what they will claim.

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  7. So North Floridians want her to cater to Wall Street bankers?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I want the same answer as you on this. Do rural voters in Jefferson or Calhoun County want her to side with Wall Street and the big banks? History tells us no. Even Bob Sikes, Earl Hutto and Don Fuqua no liberals by any stretch balanced their records when it came to issues of Wall Street.

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  8. Truth Teller · · Reply

    Graham is the only star Florida dems have. Nice job tearing her down!

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    1. Et tu Gwen? · · Reply

      The Dodd-Frank vote was ridiculous. Just indefensible. Stop trying to defend it. Hopefully, she was confused & drank too much of whatever was flowing through the pipelines. She better get her act together as the populist we sent her to be. And unlike anyone else blogging here I am a North Florida Democrat in the western part of her district who did vote for her. Surrounded by Republicans scratching their heads at her votes on the issues. If she wants to suicide showboat on Pelosi, more power to her. Inside the beltway baseball. BUT TO VOTE WITH WALL STREET RIGHT NOW????? WAKE UP, GWEN.

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  9. Nobody is tearing her down. She is falling down when she doesn’t live up to Democratic Party principles and economic populism, which is popular on both sides of the aisle.

    Like

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