43rd Governor of Florida
January 5, 1999 – January 2, 2007
|Preceded by||Buddy MacKay|
|Succeeded by||Charlie Crist|
|Born||February 11, 1953
|Residence||Coral Gables, Florida|
|Alma mater||University of Texas at Austin|
|Profession||banking, real estate|
John Ellis "Jeb" Bush (born February 11, 1953) is an American politician who served as the 43rd Governor of Florida. He is a prominent member of the Bush family: the younger brother of former President George W. Bush; the older brother of Neil Bush, Marvin Bush and Dorothy Bush Koch; and the second son of former President George H. W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush.
When Bush was 17, he went to León, Guanajuato, in Mexico, as part of his school's student exchange program. He spent his time there teaching English, and it was there that he met his future wife, Columba Garnica Gallo.
Bush attended the University of Texas at Austin, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a Bachelor's degree in Latin American Studies in 1973, taking only two and a half years to complete his work, and obtaining generally excellent grades. He had considered a career in Hollywood, but decided instead to pursue politics. He registered for the draft, but the Vietnam War ended before his number came up.
After his early graduation, Bush married Columba Garnica Gallo, on February 23, 1974. Their three children are George P. Bush, Noelle Bush and John Ellis Bush, Jr. Their eldest 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. Noelle Lucila Bush (born July 26, 1977 in Texas), their daughter and second child, studied at Tallahassee Community College, graduating in 2000. John Ellis "Jebby" Bush, Jr. (born December 13, 1983 in Miami, Florida), their youngest child, attended The Bolles School, a private boarding and day school in Jacksonville, and then the University of Texas.
John Ellis Bush, Jr., Bush's youngest son, works for a Miami 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". On January 29, 2002, according to a police report made public via The Smoking Gun, Noelle Bush attempted to “fraudulently obtain a prescription” at a Walgreens Drug Store located in Tallahassee, Florida. The attending officers, Bob Bascom and Mark E. Dent of the Tallahassee Police Department, ascertained that Bush had telephoned the pharmacy using the name “Noelle Scidmore” in an attempt to obtain Xanax, a prescription drug used to treat anxiety disorders. As a result of her arrest, Bush was ordered by a judge to attend a rehabilitation program at the Center for Drug-Free Living in Orlando, Florida. During her time at the facility, Bush was found in contempt of court after being found in possession of two grams of cocaine, and was sentenced to 10 days in jail. Upon completion of her rehabilitation program, the governor's press office released a statement on his behalf. “Columba and I are pleased that our daughter Noelle has completed this step, and grateful for the treatment she's received ... . She has worked hard to get here. We are proud of her efforts and love her very much.” Regarding her treatment, Noelle Bush herself told the court “It's been quite a challenge, and I'm grateful.”
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 long time 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:
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.
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.
In 1981, his first year with Codina's new real estate venture, Bush earned $41,508. He soon became a valuable real estate salesman for Codina and helped him build a very successful property business in Florida.
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.
There have been several allegations of this, but Bush was never on the payroll of Cuban exile Miguel Recarey. Bush worked at locating office spaces for IMC and did so like every other licensed Realtor; commission based on final performance. Jeb was provided with a detailed list of specifications of what was wanted. This included acceptable locations, a range of size and price per square foot parameters. Jeb's search went on for several months and multiple locations that met the established criteria were actually found by Jeb. Each time, he was provided with a series of reasons why the particular site was not acceptable. In reality, Miguel Recarey was an extremely contradictory fellow, constantly changing his mind. The last property that Jeb Bush brought forth was a deal almost too good to be true: the building was in Coral Gables, right in the middle of the preferred location requested and square foot pricing was well below the going market rate. Miguel found himself in in a difficult predicament and decided to pay Jeb the $75,000 commission, not for purchase of political influence as so many are fond to accuse him of, but for 2 different reasons that don't appear in the mainstream media: 1) Jeb had performed exactly as requested and he felt he had a legal liability to pay if so challenged. If so, he did not want to be embroiled in a legal fight with the son of an influential politician and be on the wrong side of the argument, 2) He felt he had a moral obligation to pay and had already run out of excuses of why the last property Jeb found would not be acceptable. 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.
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".
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".
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. 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. The school is situated in Liberty City, a Miami neighborhood that was the site, in 1980, of the first major race riot since the Civil Rights era. 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 still operates today as a charter school.
Additionally, Bush is an active rock climber, and a strong advocate for climber's rights.
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.
In addition to his business, civic and charitable activities, the Episcopalian Bush converted to Catholicism (1995). He and his wife belonged to the Epiphany Catholic Church in Miami for many years. Bush is also 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. The following is an excerpt from the speech:
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. Jeb Bush Being Knighted 4th Degree
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 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.
In 1998, Bush defeated the Democratic opponent Lt. Governor Buddy MacKay by over 418,000 votes (2,191,105; 55.3% to 1,773,054; 44.7%) to become Governor of Florida, after courting the state's moderate voters and Hispanics. Simultaneously, his brother, George W. Bush won a landslide 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. Bush is the first Republican governor of Florida to have served two full four-year terms.
Bush's administration was marked by a focus on public education reform. His "A+ Plan" mandated standardized testing in Florida's public schools, eliminated social promotion and established a system of funding public schools based on a statewide grading system using the FCAT test. 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". Despite his opposition, the amendment passed; Bush's subsequent suggestions that the amendment be repealed 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.
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. These moves were among the influencing concerns that led to the faculty of the University of Florida to deny Bush an honorary degree, whilst 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, Gov. Jeb Bush wrote a column in the Gainesville Sun defending his "One Florida" policy.
On 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.
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.
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 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. Jeb Bush is skeptical about man-made global warming.
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 Terry Schiavo's parents in the courts. Bush signed "Terri's Law," a law 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, however, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case, thus allowing the Florida court's ruling to stand. Bush took heated criticism from conservatives who were disappointed that he did not take further action to prevent Schiavo from having her feeding tube removed.
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.
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.
Bush said one of the most important goals of his final two years as Governor was to secure the FTAA Secretariat for Miami.
Lt. Gov. Frank Brogan, a former fifth-grade teacher, principal, and superintendent, served only one term with Bush. After Brogan remarried, he opted not to serve a second term. Brogan was reelected to a second term in 2002 with Bush and then resigned in March 2003. He and his new wife moved to Boca Raton, where he serves as president of Florida Atlantic University. In Tallahassee, a museum was named in honor of Brogan's late wife, Mary, who died on June 27, 1999 of breast cancer and, like her husband, was a Florida school teacher.
As Governor, Bush served as the chairman of the Florida Cabinet, which provides collective governance over part of state government.
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 DNC and its highest leadership during the 2002 election cycle.
Bush almost faced Janet Reno in the 2002 Florida Governor's race. However, a number of other Democratic candidates also wanted to become Florida's next Governor, including Bill McBride. A prominent litigator with Holland & Knight and a novice candidate, McBride was favored by national Democratic Party leaders in part because of his military background and perceived ability to attract Florida's more conservative voters.
In the ensuing Democratic primary contest (where only Democratic voters could vote, pursuant to state primary laws), circumstances surrounding McBride's victory outraged many voters in South Florida. Some voting venues – located in Reno's urban strongholds of Broward County and Dade County, and operated by Democrats elected as county election officials – reportedly opened hours late, and then ignored Bush's Executive Order, issued at Reno's request, to stay open later to accommodate all voters.
In the closely watched Florida Governor's race that attracted national attention, Bush was re-elected in November 2002, becoming the first Republican in the state's history to be re-elected as Governor. Bush defeated Democratic challenger Bill McBride with 56% to 43%, a greater margin of victory than in Bush's 1998 campaign for the Governor's office. Bush also increased the number of counties in his victory column, winning several Florida counties for the very first time. He campaigned all throughout North West Florida in Pensacola and Milton.
In January 2007, Bush became only the second Florida Governor to complete two full four-year terms in office, the first being Democrat Reubin O'Donovan Askew. (Bush was prevented from seeking a third term in the 2006 election, due to term limits under state law.)
Bush made Florida political history not only by becoming the first Republican Governor to ever win re-election in Florida, but also by being the first Florida Governor to select a woman, Toni Jennings, to serve as Florida's Lieutenant Governor. No woman had ever been appointed or elected to that high office in Florida's executive branch.
Bush is also the first Governor to hold office while having a brother simultaneously serve as President.
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 current 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.
Notwithstanding rumors, he did not run for president in the 2008 election.
Bush is popular among Cubans in Florida (winning 80 percent of the Cuban vote in 2002) and popular among non-Cuban Hispanics (56 percent in 2002, equaling the 56 percent he won statewide). As a longtime supporter of Israel, Bush also maintains a significant connection to Florida's Jewish voters. 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 Governor's race. Many black voters support his focus on public education and parental choice in education, and a number of Black Republican clubs have risen in Florida. In his re-election in 2002, Bush surprised critics by winning the white female vote in the swing-voting battleground of Central Florida's I-4 corridor. Most recently, he has reached out extensively to Florida's Haitian community.
Bush's appeal to Florida's highly diverse group of voters, along with his success in expanding the so-called "big tent" of the Florida Republican Party, appear to have propelled him into a commanding political position. Nationwide, American conservatives appear to be positive about Bush, seeing him as committed to upholding core conservative principles.
Throughout his two administrations, Bush's office touted his record of non–discrimination and rewarding merit, claiming he employed highly qualified women, blacks and other minorities more often in top-level government positions than any previous Florida Governor.
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, 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 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.
Since 2004, he has been serving a four-year term as a Board Member for the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB). 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 2008, Bush will be serving on the NAGB educational committee focused on Standards, Design and Methodology.
In May 2006, AP reported that Bush was privately approached to become the next commissioner of the National Football League. 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". Roger Goodell eventually became the new NFL commissioner.
On January 27, 2007 Bush spoke as the keynote speaker at the National Review Institute's Conservative Summit in Washington, D.C. speaking about the Democratic take over in Congress. He told political conservatives "we lost, and there are significant reasons that happened, but it isn't because conservatives were rejected. It's because we rejected the conservative philosophy in this country." He told them “don't…abandon conservative principles…we don't need to be the end all and be all for every special interest group, for every constituent that you like, for every person that's given a fundraising check to your campaign, for everything that is just wrong about public policy and politics”. In attendance at the summit was former chairman of the Republican National Committee Ed Gillespie who said if he, like Bush, “left office with approval ratings above 60 percent…he might be in Des Moines today [preparing for the presidential primary]”. Bush denied rumors that he would run for President in 2008, but “when questioned did not rule out running as a vice presidential candidate.” He joked about being out of work for the first time in his life but said he is happy for the opportunity to “take a pause.”
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. But in January 2009, he announced that he would not run for the Senate.
|Florida Gubernatorial Election 1994|
|Democratic||Lawton Chiles (incumbent)||2,135,008||50.75|
|Florida Gubernatorial Election 1998|
|Florida Gubernatorial Election 2002|
Kenneth H. "Buddy" MacKay, Jr.
|Governor of Florida
January 5, 1999 - January 2, 2007
|Party political offices|
|Republican Party nominee for Governor of Florida
1994 (lost), 1998 (won), 2002 (won)
John Ellis Bush (born 11 February 1953) Politician; Governor of Florida; usually called "Jeb" Bush
43rd Governor of Florida
January 5, 1999 – January 2, 2007
|Lieutenant|| Frank Brogan (1999–2003) |
Toni Jennings (2003–2007)
|Preceded by||Buddy MacKay|
|Succeeded by||Charlie Crist|
|Born|| February 11, 1953|
|Residence||Coral Gables, Florida|
|Alma mater||University of Texas at Austin|
|Profession||banking, real estate|