[Updated May 8, 2015] Jeb Bush grabbed the political world by the collar on Dec. 16, 2014, when he posted a message on Facebook saying he has decided to “actively explore the possibility of running for president of the United States.”
He is expected to become a full-fledged candidate in June 2015. As a successful two-term Florida governor, Bush is a respected conservative with an intellectual streak, and has the deep political and fundraising connections that come from being a Bush. But his family name cuts two ways. While his father’s presidency is now remembered with fondness, and his brother’s presidency improves in public estimation, Jeb would still need to overcome “Bush fatigue.”
Some of Bush’s policy positions could prove challenging among conservative primary voters, even if they are assets in the general election. Chief among them is his moderate position on immigration reform, and use of compassionate language on the issue. He supports a path to “legal status” for undocumented immigrants, though not citizenship. His fluency in Spanish and his Mexican-born wife could give him entré into the Latino community, the large and fast-growing voting bloc that went overwhelmingly for Obama in November 2012.
Bush’s support for the Common Core education standards is also anathema to most conservatives. But his advocacy for school choice and tougher testing standards fits the conservative agenda.
As governor, Bush may be best remembered for his effective emergency management during the hurricanes of 2004 and '05. A negative memory that could come back if Bush runs is the march on Tallahassee by tens of thousands of protesters in 2000, sparked by his “One Florida” initiative to do away with affirmative action in admissions to state universities.