Jeb Bush

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Order: 43rd Governor of Florida, USA
Terms of Office: January 1999 – January 2003;
January 2003 – present
Predecessor: Kenneth H. "Buddy" MacKay, Jr.
Successor: incumbent
Date of Birth: February 11, 1953
Place of Birth: Midland, Texas
First Lady: Columba Bush
Profession: Business - Banking, Real Estate,
and Entrepreneur
Political Party: Republican
Lieutenant Governor:

John Ellis "Jeb" Bush (born February 11, 1953), a Republican, is the 43rd and current Governor of Florida. He is a prominent member of the Bush family, the younger brother of President George W. Bush and the second son of former President George H. W. Bush and Barbara Pierce.


Early years

Jeb Bush was born in Midland, Texas, where his father was running an oil drilling company. He has been known by his initials "JEB" since childhood.

When Bush was six years old, the family moved to Houston, Texas. He was a childhood athlete, enjoying baseball and tennis. He went to a public elementary school, but later transferred to a private school. When he was in eighth grade, his father won a seat in Congress and moved to Washington, DC. Bush stayed in Houston with another family to finish the school year, and spent most summers and holidays at the family estate, known as the Bush Compound.

He then enrolled at Andover, a private boarding school in Massachusetts already attended by his brother George. Bush made the honor roll in his first semester. He has described himself in his time there as "a cynical little turd in a cynical little school". He has also admitted to smoking marijuana while a student. Friends recall him as disciplined and focused, neither drinking nor gambling during a trip to Las Vegas. He did, however, enjoy an Elvis Presley concert.[1] (

When Bush was seventeen, he went to Len, Mexico, as part of his school's student exchange program. He spent his time there teaching English. While attending a motorcycle race, he met a local girl named Columba Garnica Gallo, whom he eventually married.

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 registered for the draft, but the Vietnam War ended before his number came up.

After graduating early from college, Bush married the first and only woman he had ever dated, Columba Garnica Gallo, on February 23, 1974. Their three children, now grown, are George P. (recently married), John E. "Jeb", Jr. and Noelle.

Early career

Business experience in Texas and abroad

After earning his degree, Bush went to work in an entry level position in the international division of Texas Commerce Bank, which was run by Ben Love. Love hired the new college graduate for his office, where Bush assisted in drafting much of Love's communications.
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Jeb Bush's father, George H.W. Bush, a former U.S. Vice President and the 41st U.S. President. Jeb Bush returned to the states from abroad to campaign for his father in 1980.

In November 1977 he was sent to the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, in South America, to open a new operation for the bank. Bush moved his family to the foreign city and spent about two years there, working in international finance. In so doing, he earned his way into the executive program at the bank.

Bush attracted a lot of new business to the bank as a result of his effective networking in Venezuela while maintaining credit quality in an emerging market.

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 Ronald Reagan chose George H. W. Bush to be his running mate. Bush's father was soon elected in that year the Vice President of the United States, and won reelection in 1984. In 1988, George H.W. Bush won the Republican Party's presidential nomination, and the election, becoming the nation's 41st president.

Business experience in Miami, Florida

Following the 1980 presidential election, Bush and his family moved to 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 salesman and realtor for Codina, and helped Codina 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 scheme to sell water pumps in Nigeria.

Because of Bush's effectiveness in Cordina's property business, Codina eventually agreed to take him on as a partner in a new development business. It quickly became one of South Florida's leading real estate development firms. As a partner, Bush received a handsome 40% of the firm's profits.

In June 1993, Bush sold his share of the company he and Codina had built for over one million dollars to pursue public service.

Civic and charitable activities

After losing a 1994 election for Governor of the State of Florida, Bush pursued policy and charitable interests. He started a non-profit organization called "The Foundation For Floridas Future" which was described by some as a "think tank". Its stated mission was to influence public policy at the grassroots level. He also "volunteered time to assist the Miami Children's Hospital, the United Way of Dade County and the Dade County Homeless Trust". [2] (

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School Choice, a book with a foreword written by Gov. Jeb Bush.

In 1996, The Foundation For Floridas Future published a book that Bush had co-written, Profiles in Character (ISBN 0965091201). The book highlighted a number of ordinary people, detailing their true stories of uncommon courage. The foundation also published and distributed policy papers, such as "A New Lease on Learning: Florida's First Charter School", co-written by Bush.[3] ( (PDF) Bush subsequently wrote the foreword to another book, shown at right, published by the conservative Heritage Foundation and written by Nina Shokraii Rees, School Choice 2000: Whats Happening in the States (ISBN 0891950893).

Bush co-founded the first charter school in the State of Florida: Liberty City Charter School, a grades K-6 elementary school.[[4] ( Situated in Liberty City, Dade County, the school is located just outside of greater Miami, in an area plagued by poverty. The co-founder, working alongside Bush as a partner, was T. Williard 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.

Personal transformation

In addition to his business, civic and charitable activities, Bush underwent a religious conversion during his early career years. At the urging of his wife, Columba, a devout Mexican Catholic, the Protestant Bush became a Roman Catholic. He and his wife belonged to the Epiphany Catholic Church in Miami for many years.

Rather than fade into the annals of political history after his 1994 defeat for the governorship at the age of 41, Bush then refocused and worked hard to re-establish himself. A religious conversion and substantial civic involvement added different dimensions to his business background. Four years down the road, at 45 years of age, a new Jeb Bush emerged, and in 1998 became Governor of Florida.

Political career

Bush speaks Spanish fluently, in addition to English. He has delivered speeches in both English and Spanish to appeal to Florida's large Hispanic population.

Early campaigns

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.

Governor of Florida

In 1998, Bush defeated Democratic opponent Lt. Governor Buddy MacKay (55% to 45%) to become governor, after courting 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's administration has been 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 High School, a distance-learning program that allows students in rural areas of the state to take Advanced Placement classes for college credit.

Bush has also been a vocal advocate of environmentalism, signing legislation to protect the Everglades and opposing federal plans to drill for oil off the coast of Florida.

Like most Republicans, he is perceived as being generally pro-business, and has worked to repeal several taxes in Florida.

Some opponents have questioned whether he or his Secretary of State attempted to help his brother in the 2000 presidential election, in which his brother's victory over Democratic candidate Al Gore was secured through a complicated process of recounts and court battles in Florida. They have also pointed to Bush's daughter Noelle Bush who successfully completed rehabilitation for her drug abuse. Other opponents have questioned some of his business dealings, including a Nigerian deal, where it is claimed Nigerian government officials demanded bribes in return for approval of a $74,000,000 water-pump sale that was mostly financed by US foreign aid.

Governor Bush was involved for many years in the case of Terri Schiavo, a brain-damaged woman on a feeding tube whose husband and legal guardian, Michael Schiavo, wished to remove the tube. Bush, who is pro-life, signed "Terri's Law",a law passed by the Florida legislature that permitted the Governor to keep Schiavo alive. The law was successfully challenged in court, and ruled unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court on September 23 2004. That decision was appealed to the federal courts, but on January 24 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case, thus allowing the Florida court's ruling to stand. Conservative critics were very unhappy that Bush did not take further action to keep Terri alive.

Despite these critics, Bush has consistently remained popular overall in Florida — a state with more registered Democratic than Republican voters[5] (, and an influential and diverse number of independent swing voters, who are broadly recognized as determining the final outcome of every state election.

One of the most important goals of Bush's final two years as governor is to secure the FTAA Secretariat for Miami. Supporters of the governor believe he intends Miami to become the "Brussels of the Americas". [6] (

Lt. Gov. Frank Brogan. Brogan, a former fifth-grade teacher, principal, and superintendent, served only one term with Bush. After Brogan became a widower and then remarried, he was eager to start a new life with his second wife, so he opted not to serve a second term. He and his new wife moved to Boca Raton, where he serves as president of Florida Atlantic University. Back in Tallahassee, a museum was named in honor of Brogan's late wife, Mary, who died of cancer and, like her husband, was a Florida school teacher.[7] (

2002 gubernatorial election

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.

The Democratic primary race

Bush almost faced a female candidate, Janet Reno, in the 2002 Florida governor's race. Reno, a well-known Florida native, experienced politician, and former US Attorney General, was a favorite candidate to Florida's most liberal voters. However, a number of other Democratic candidates also wanted to become Florida's next governor, including Bill McBride. A lawyer who owned a law firm in Florida, 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 conservative voters. Neither McBride nor Reno had any expertise in what polls showed was the top issue to Florida voters: Education.

In the ensuing Democratic primary contest (where only Democratic voters could vote, pursuant to state primary laws), circumstances surrounding the razor-thin win by Bill McBride outraged many liberal Democratic voters in South Florida. Several pundits claimed what happened was actually far more unfair ( than any previously alleged voting irregularities in the state's history. 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. ( As a result of this situation, Bush subsequently used his legal authority as governor to remove Broward County's Election Supervisor from office.

The 2002 election results

In this closely watched Florida governor's race that continuously 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.

When Bush completes his term in January 2007, he will become only the second Florida governor to complete two full four-year terms in office, the first being Democrat Reubin O'D. Askew. Bush has often publicly said he believes he has the best job in the world as governor of Florida. However, Florida is a state with term limits, preventing Bush from seeking a third term.

Bush made 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. Nor has any woman served as Florida's governor. Bush has been quoted in local media as saying he is eager to see a woman lead Florida as its governor.

Bush is also the first state governor to hold office while having a brother simultaneously serve as the nation's president. Perhaps even more notable to those who like to study election results is the following: back in Bush's initial race for governor in 1994, he lost by the smallest margin of votes in Florida history; however, after running on his first term record in his 2002 campaign for a 2nd term, he won by the largest margin of votes in Florida history.

Political future

Bush is widely considered to be a rising star of the Republican Party; there was some speculation that he might run for President himself in 2008. However, on October 17, 2004, he denied interest in running ( in the 2008 election. Some have guessed that Bush would run against Florida's current Democratic senator, Bill Nelson, in the 2006 U.S. Senate election.

Bush's appeal to Florida voters

Bush is very popular among Cubans in Florida (winning 80% of the Cuban vote in 2002), and popular among non-Cuban Hispanics (56% in 2002, equaling the 56% 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% 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 sprung up 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, taking on a unique leadership role (,0,6244626.story?coll=sfla-news-caribbean) to help rebuild that neighboring country and assist its impoverished people.

Bush's impact on his political party

Bush's appeal to Florida's highly diverse group of voters, along with his groundbreaking second term and success in expanding the so-called "big tent" of the Florida Republican Party, appears 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. Bush strives to personally keep in touch with his base, as when he emailed his thanks to his most devoted supporters, on a conservative web site, within 24 hours after winning the 2002 governor's race ( Throughout his two administrations, Bush's office has touted his record of non-discrimination and rewarding merit, claiming he employs highly qualified women, blacks and other minorities more often in top-level government positions than any previous Florida governor.

Republican candidates in Florida seem to have likewise benefited from Bush's leadership, turning the state's Senate and House of Representatives into solid Republican majorities during Bush's time in office. 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 Democrat governors. On the West Coast, after Democratic Governor Gray Davis was ousted in a California 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.

Bush's on-going interests

Bush has also been active in the neo-conservative Project for the New American Century, whose goal is to promote American global leadership. In addition, 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 boards purpose is to establish policy on reports examining K-12 students academic progress in Americas public and private schools. In 2008 Bush will be serving on the NAGB educational committee focused on Standards, Design and Methodology.

Although Bush had denied interest in a 2008 White House run, and publicly said he will not run for a US Senate seat in 2006 (, he did create a new web site for himself in 2004, the first time he has done so when not officially a candidate.



External links

Preceded by:
Kenneth H. "Buddy" MacKay, Jr.
Governors of Florida
January 5, 1999
Succeeded by:
None (Incumbent)

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