George W. Bush weighs in on brother Jeb's political future. Dynasty, anyone?

Jeb Bush has been getting family advice on running for president in 2016 – some yea, some nay. Former president George W. Bush says there’s a '50-50 chance' his younger brother will run. Meanwhile, George P. Bush just won statewide office in Texas.

LM Otero/AP
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush sits with his son George P. Bush before speaking to supporters at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, Oct. 14.

Will the Bush political dynasty continue through 2016 – and perhaps beyond?

Now that the 2014 mid-term elections are behind us and the 2016 presidential election is only 730 days away, it’s time to crank up the speculating – including whether former Florida governor Jeb Bush will be in the mix.

By our count, there are at least 16 Republicans considering the presidency – not counting the adage that every US senator wakes up in the morning, looks in the mirror, and sees a potential president. (See our list of 16 here.)

As Monitor politics writer Linda Feldmann noted in putting together the list, Jeb Bush “has the deep political and fundraising connections that come from being a Bush.”

But he has a few problems. Many Americans have had it with dynasties. Father and son John and John Quincy Adams were OK, and maybe cousins Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt; less so the Kennedys and Clintons. Jeb Bush’s father (the 41st president) is viewed in retrospect with some fondness (jumping out of airplanes and those whimsical socks make us smile), but Jeb’s brother (43) not so much. Most Americans still think it was wrong to invade Iraq.

“Some of [Jeb] Bush’s policy positions could prove challenging among conservative primary voters, even if they are assets in the general election,” according to the Feldmann analysis. “Chief among them is his support for comprehensive immigration reform. His immigration stance, plus his fluency in Spanish and his Mexican-born wife, gives him entré into the Latino community, the large and fast-growing voting bloc that went overwhelmingly for Obama in November 2012. More appealing to conservatives may be Bush’s advocacy, through his education think tank, for school choice and tougher testing standards.”

If anything, immigration has become even more of a burr under Republican saddles – especially now that President Obama says he may issue an executive order on immigration by year’s end without waiting for Congress to pass comprehensive reform, including relief from deportation to several million people in the United States illegally. 

Mr. Bush (that’s Jeb) has gotten conflicting advice from family members.

Mother Barbara Bush – outspoken as usual – has said “we’ve had enough Bushes” in the White House.

Son George P. Bush (who just won his race to become Texas Land Commissioner), told ABC last month that his father is giving “serious thought” to a run for the presidency. “If you had asked me a few years back, I would have said it was less likely,” he said.

“Kids!” Jeb said (more or less). “He didn’t talk to me.”

Speaking on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday, George W. said his younger brother is “wrestling with the decision.”

“I think it’s 50-50,” the former president said, adding that he would be "all in" for his brother if he decides to run for the office and would do whatever he asks, even if it's to stay behind the scenes. As for their mother's position that enough Bushes have run for president, he said, "Sometimes her prognostications haven't been very accurate."

Any potential Republican candidate has to be thinking about the likely Democratic opposition, specifically Hillary Clinton

If the race ends up being dynasty-versus-dynasty (and the election was held today), Jeb Bush would have a challenge. In the Real Clear Politics polling average, he trails the former secretary of state by 10 percentage points. But among Republicans thinking about their party’s nomination, he’s neck-and-neck with Sen. Rand Paul for the top spot.

It may be that any future Bush dynasty jumps past Jeb to George P.

Nobody runs for Texas Land Commissioner – as important a post as that is in the Lone Star State – thinking that’s the pinnacle of their political career.

Politics is the family business, and George P. is an attractive figure. (He first spoke at a Republican National Convention when he was 12 years old.) If nothing else, the fact that his mother was born in Mexico could draw a sizable chunk of the Hispanic vote away from Democrats.

“If anyone is tempted to dismiss George P. Bush as a political newcomer running on little more than an impressive name, please reconsider,” the Houston Chronicle declared in its endorsement. “Bush is the real deal. During his interviews with the editorial board, the Republican candidate for commissioner of the General Land Office proved himself one of the most knowledgeable and thoughtful candidates of this election season.”

But for now, the political focus is on his dad and the 2016 presidential election.

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