John Ellis “Jeb” Bush (born February 11, 1953) is an American businessman and politician who served as the 43rd Governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007.
Bush, who grew up in Houston, is the second son of former President George H. W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush, and a brother of former President George W. Bush. He graduated from Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, and attended the University of Texas, where he earned a degree in Latin American affairs. In 1980, he moved to Florida and pursued a career in real estate development, and in 1986 became Florida’s Secretary of Commerce until 1988. At that time, he joined his father’s successful campaign for the Presidency.
In 1994, Bush made his first run for office, losing the election for governor by less than two percentage points to the incumbent Lawton Chiles. Bush ran again in 1998 and defeated Lieutenant Governor Buddy MacKay with 55 percent of the vote. He ran for reelection in 2002 and won with 56 percent to become Florida’s first two-term Republican governor. During his eight years as governor, Bush pushed an ambitious Everglades conservation plan, supported caps for medical malpractice litigation, launched a Medicaid privatization pilot program, and instituted reforms to the state education system, including the issuance of vouchers and promoting school choice.
Bush announced his presidential candidacy on June 15, 2015, but suspended his run on February 20, 2016, shortly after the South Carolina primary.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Business career before entering politics
- 3 Early political career
- 4 Governor of Florida
- 4.1 1998 gubernatorial election
- 4.2 Economic policy
- 4.3 Education policy
- 4.4 Health policy
- 4.5 Other policies
- 4.6 Veto of high speed rail and other vetoes
- 4.7 2002 gubernatorial re-election
- 5 Post-governorship
- 5.1 Impact on political party
- 5.2 Political interests
- 5.3 Business activities
- 6 2016 United States presidential election
- 7 Political positions
- 7.1 Domestic issues
- 7.2 Economic issues
- 7.3 International relations and security
- 8 Civic and charitable activities
- 9 Personal life
- 10 Electoral history
- 11 Bibliography
- 12 See also
- 13 References
- 14 Further reading
- 15 External links
Early life and education
Jeb Bush was born on February 11, 1953 in Midland, Texas. When he was six years old, the family relocated to the Tanglewood neighborhood of Houston, Texas. The nickname “Jeb” is composed of his initials J.E.B. (John Ellis Bush).
He grew up with two younger brothers, Neil and Marvin, one younger sister, Dorothy, and one older brother, George, who is seven years older. Jeb Bush initially attended Grady Elementary School in Houston. Following in the footsteps of his father and older brother George, at the age of 14 years in late 1967, Bush began attending high school at the Andover, Massachusetts boarding school Phillips Academy, Andover. Even though he received poor grades at first, he made the honor roll by the end of his senior year and served as captain of the tennis team.
At the age of 17, Bush taught English as a second language and assisted in the building of a school in Ibarrilla, a small village outside of León, Guanajuato, Mexico, as part of Andover’s student exchange summer program. While in Mexico, he met his future wife, Columba Garnica Gallo.
Bush, who had largely avoided criticizing or supporting the Vietnam War, registered for the draft after his graduation from high school in 1971. In the fourth and final draft lottery drawing, on February 2, 1972, for men born in 1953 and to be inducted during 1973, Bush received a draft number of 26 on a calendar-based scale that went to 365. But no new draft orders were issued after 1972, because the U.S. changed to an all-volunteer military beginning in 1973.
Though many in his family had attended Yale University, Bush chose to attend the University of Texas at Austin, beginning in September 1971. He played on the Texas Longhorns varsity tennis team in 1973. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in Latin American studies. He completed his coursework in two and a half years.
Business career before entering politics
In 1974, Bush went to work in an entry-level position in the international division of Texas Commerce Bank, which was founded by the family of James Baker. In November 1977, he was sent to Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, to open a new operation for the bank, where he served as branch manager and vice president.
Following the 1980 presidential election, Bush and his family moved to Miami-Dade County, Florida. He took a job in real estate with Armando Codina, a 32-year-old Cuban immigrant and self-made millionaire. Codina had made a fortune in a computer business, and then formed a new company, The Codina Group, to pursue opportunities in real estate. During his time with the company, Bush focused on finding tenants for commercial developments. Codina eventually made Bush his partner in a new development business, which quickly became one of South Florida’s leading real estate development firms. As a partner, Bush received 40% of the firm’s profits. In 1983, Bush said of his move from Houston to Miami: “On the personal side, my mother-in-law and sister-in-law were already living here”, and on the professional side, “I want to be very wealthy, and I’ll be glad to tell you when I’ve accomplished that goal.”
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 project selling water pumps in Nigeria. Miguel Recarey, who ran International Medical Centres (IMC), employed Bush as a real estate consultant and paid him a US$75,000 fee for finding the company a new location, although the move never took place. Bush did, however, lobby the Reagan administration vigorously and successfully on behalf of Recarey and IMC.
Early political career
Bush volunteered for his father’s campaigns in 1980 and 1988. During the 1980 campaign, Bush worked as an unpaid volunteer, and expressed great admiration for his father. In the mid-1980s, 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 to work on his father’s presidential campaign.
Bush frequently communicated with his father’s staff from 1981 through 1992. The younger Bush recommended Dexter Lehtinen for the post of U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and set up a meeting between the Bush Administration and Motorola. He also advocated for Cuban exiles living in South Florida, and supported the Cuban embargo. In 1990, Bush urged his father to pardon Orlando Bosch, a Cuban exile who had been convicted of firing a rocket into a Polish ship which was on passage to Cuba. Bosch was released from prison and granted residency in the U.S.
In 1989, Bush was the campaign manager of Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the first Cuban-American to serve in Congress. In 1994, Bush launched an unsuccessful bid for the Governor’s office against incumbent Democratic Governor Lawton Chiles. Bush ran that year as a conservative. At one point, he was asked what he would do for African Americans, and Bush responded: “It’s time to strive for a society where there’s equality of opportunity, not equality of results. So I’m going to answer your question by saying: probably nothing.” Bush lost the election by only 63,940 votes out of 4,206,076 that were cast for the major party candidates (2,135,008; 51% to 2,071,068; 49%). In the same election year, his older brother, George, was elected Governor of Texas. Following his election loss, Bush joined the board of the Heritage Foundation and continued to work with Codina Partners. Alongside T. William Fair, the president of the Urban League’s Miami affiliate, Bush helped to establish Florida’s first charter school.
Governor of Florida
Bush ran again for governor in 1998, defeating Democrat Buddy MacKay, who was Lieutenant Governor. Bush ran for reelection in 2002 to become Florida’s first two-term Republican governor. During his eight years as governor, Bush was credited with initiating environmental improvements, such as conservation in the Everglades, supporting caps for medical malpractice litigation, moving medicaid recipients to private systems, and instituting reforms to the state education system, including the issuance of vouchers and promoting school choice. Bush was governor when his brother George won an intensely fought election recount in Florida to become President. Bush recused himself from any official role in the recount.
1998 gubernatorial election
In 1998, Bush defeated his Democratic opponent, Lieutenant Governor Buddy MacKay, by over 418,000 votes (2,191,105; 55% to 1,773,054; 45%) to become Governor of Florida. He campaigned as a “consensus-building pragmatist”. Simultaneously, his brother, George W. Bush won a re-election victory for a second term as Governor of Texas, and they became the first siblings to govern two states simultaneously since Nelson and Winthrop Rockefeller governed New York and Arkansas from 1967 to 1971.
In the 1998 election, Bush garnered 61 percent of the Hispanic vote and 14 percent of the African American vote.