Jeb Bush, former Florida Governor and next-in-line beneficiary of probably the most presidentially active dynasty in modern American politics, wasted no time to start his New Year off with a bang. In a blow-the-spot-up signal that he’s definitely got his eye on the Republican presidential nomination for 2016, the son and brother of Bush Presidents I and II respectively quit every private and non-profit board he currently sits on.
No major politician gives up that kind of prestige and cheddar unless he or she is about to press on with a full-time career in campaigning. The move gives him the elbow space he’ll need to build a presidential exploratory machine. And with a packed GOP nomination field already taking shape, kicking it off at the top of 2015 should offer some head start in the race to lock donors, advisers, staff, etc. Nahal Toosi in Politico reports:
The Republican’s latest moves also include leaving his position as a paid adviser to a for-profit education company, Academic Partnerships, whose practices have drawn some criticism.
Other, previously reported, Bush resignations include a role as a paid adviser to Barclays, the British bank; membership on the board of real estate investment trust Rayonier Inc., and a position on the board of Tenet Healthcare Corp.
The resignations became effective December 31st, thereby giving him some clean slate in 2015 and enough time between now and the official start of the Republican primaries for voters to forget about it. Controversy had already started swirling over his choice of corporate company, with observers predicting road bumps ahead from a scrutinizing electorate. Academic Partnerships would have ruined his street cred as an education reformer while Tenet does no self-respecting GOP candidate any good while trying to sell an anti-Obamacare platform to a red base.
But where exactly does the Bush brand stand at the moment? It’s still hot stuff – as far as Republican voters are concerned. There’s been much buzz surrounding a recent CNN/ORC poll of GOP aspirants, with the former Florida Governor locking up nearly a quarter of likely Republican voters:
He takes nearly one-quarter — 23% — of Republicans surveyed in the new nationwide poll, putting him 10 points ahead of his closest competitor, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who tallied 13%.
Physician Ben Carson comes in third, with 7% support, and Sen. Rand Paul and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee are both tied for fourth with 6%.
That marks a drop in support for all but Christie and Bush from the last CNN/ORC survey of the field, conducted in November. That poll showed Bush in the lead, but only taking 14% of the vote, while Carson came in second with 11% and Christie tied Rep. Paul Ryan for fourth with 9% support.
Interestingly enough, a recent Economist/YouGov poll from a couple of weeks ago shows presidential wannabes like Paul with higher favorability ratings than Bush – 37 percent to 30 percent – which might offer some clues into an emerging libertarian strain within the Republican electorate that could give establishment candidates like Bush a run for their money.