To many Republicans in the modern political climate, John Ellis Bush (or Jeb, as he prefers answering to his initials) is a solid choice to hold the Republican nomination for the presidential election of 2016. To be sure, he is a practiced and experienced statesman, holding the distinction of being the only Republican to serve two terms as Governor of the state of Florida. And in many ways, he seems as if he would be pleasing to the all important conservative branch of the GOP. While Governor, Bush maintained staunch support for the death penalty, holding office during 21 executions and never once choosing to commute any of the sentences. Taxes fell during his terms, the size of the state government was slashed, and over $2 billion in new spending was vetoed by his pen. He even reduced funding for many public projects, including libraries and homework assistance programs. These last actions may seem questionable to some, but to fiscal conservatives for whom limiting the scope and cost of government is a make or break issue, they are pure gold.
It may be surprising for many to learn, then, that Bush is actually a frequent target of criticism from those in his party for being too liberal. Specifically, those raising this concern point to his record on immigration, which was been decidedly lenient. He has even been quoted as saying, to the delight of precisely no one on the right, that illegal immigration is an ìact of loveî. It is not difficult to understand why he has had to take this position, given the large Hispanic population living in Florida, but to conservatives across the country, his stance is infuriating.
The Republican party, however, particularly in recent elections, has built up a history of nominating candidates with rather questionable conservative credentials, including Mitt Romney and John McCain. This burgeoning tradition may help insulate Bush, or it may not; immigration is a very hot issue among the right, but little can be done to protect him from his own name. Jeb Bush hails from the family that contributed the infamous President George W, who left office with the lowest approval rating in United States history. Their father, George Herbert Walker, was also President (if not quite as unpopular), creating the danger of American burnout with Bush presidencies and introducing a new, potentially lethal complication to Jeb’s possible aspirations.
Jeb Bush has not yet announced his candidacy, but he has formed an exploratory committee and is assessing his viability for 2016.