Name: John Ellis Bush
Previous Experience: Banking and Commercial Real Estate, Florida Secretary of Commerce, Charter School Advocate, Florida Governor 1998-2006, Management Consulting, Foundation for Excellence in Education
Signature Issue: Education. Bush has been at the fore of conservative efforts to promote school choice, innovation, and competition in public schools. He helped found one of the first charter schools in Florida, and, as governor, aggressively promoted charters, voucher programs, and greater accountability for schools and teachers. Bush’s efforts raised test scores and increased graduation rates during a period when Florida’s population grew by 2.5 million. After his term as governor, he founded the Foundation for Excellence in Education to continue promoting reform.
Opportunities: As the moderate former governor of a large, diverse, electorally significant state, Bush is considered a strong candidate by establishment Republicans looking for a nominee that can compete in a General Election. Bush’s forceful advocacy for education, strong credentials with Latino voters, and earnest calls for inclusivity in the G.O.P. have positioned him to appeal to those with concerns that the extreme conservatism of other candidates energizes the base but hurts Republican candidates on the national stage.
Challenges: Bush’s name and association with his father and brother firmly identifies him with traditional political circles. Fears about dynastic politics, especially in a general election with another Clinton are a common objection to his candidacy. His moderate positions on immigration and Common Core, along with his establishment credentials, generate anxiety among those looking for a more conservative candidate. His reserve and measured tone on the campaign trail, as well as a few fumbled interview questions (his response to a question from Megyn Kelly about Iraq, and a blundered quote about funding for women’s health stand out) have raised questions about his ability to stand out in a crowded primary field.
Did you know? Bush holds a degree in Latin American Studies from the University of Texas.