The Hill makes the obvious point that if Jeb Bush did indeed decide to run in 2010, he’d clear the Republican field of other strong contenders, and possibly the Democratic field as well. Yesterday, to the surprise of many, myself included, Bush made it clear that he was taking the idea seriously.
Bush, who served two terms as Florida governor, issued a statement Wednesday saying he has “not ruled out” a bid for the Senate. He also began making multiple consultation calls late Tuesday, sounding out top Republicans across the state about the feasibility of a campaign and his potential impact in the Senate.
I’m sympathetic to Democrat Steve Geller’s take:
“I don’t know that he’ll actually do it. I just think he wants to be considered,” former Senate Minority Leader Steve Geller said. “He is used to being a strong executive and is not suited to a collegial body like the Senate. He wants to be president, governor or God.”
At the same time, someone of Jeb Bush’s stature could very quickly become a figure conservatives could rally around, not unlike Bob “Mr. Republican” Taft. We generally don’t think of junior senators this way, but note that Obama and McCain were both senators cut from this cloth: they both had a national identity as the standard-bearers of an identifiable political tendency. (Identifiable, not necessarily coherent.) If it really is true that Jeb Bush can never run for president, serving as an influential senator might be the most effective way for him to wield influence over the country and over the shape of the Republican future. A Bush victory in the Senate race would also give Republicans in Florida an opportunity to regroup, and possibly to pave the way for Marco Rubio in the next cycle. This is hardly a crazy idea.
As for amateur psychological speculation, Jeb Bush could become the face of the 2010 midterms, either as an early mark of the Republican fightback or as a bright spot in an otherwise dismal year: this could help salve the wounds to the Bush legacy.