Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
John Ellis "Jeb" Bush (born February 11, 1953), a Republican is the forty-third and current Governor of Florida. He is a prominent member of the Bush family: the younger brother of President George W. Bush, older brother of Neil Bush, and second son of former President George H. W. Bush.
Jeb Bush was born in Midland, Texas, where his father was running an oil drilling company. He has been known by his initials JEB, since childhood.
When Jeb was six years old, the family moved to Houston, Texas. He was a childhood athlete enjoying baseball and tennis. He went to a public elementary school, but later transferred to a private school. When he was in eighth grade, his father won a seat in Congress and moved to Washington, DC. Jeb stayed in Houston with another family and finished the school year there.
He then enrolled in Andover, a private boarding school in Massachusetts where his brother was already in attendance. Jeb made the honor roll in his first semester. He enjoyed his time at the school, although he did not appreciate the "snobbish" attitudes of many at the school. Jeb was a vigorous defender of the South at the Yankee stronghold. He was an unusually disciplined and focused teenager, visiting Las Vegas with friends and neither drinking nor gambling. He did, however, enjoy an Elvis Presley concert.
When Jeb Bush was seventeen, he went to León, Mexico, as part of his school's student exchange program. He spent his time there as a young teacher, teaching Mexicans how to speak English. While attending a motorcycle race, he met a local girl named Columba Garnica Gallo. They eventually married.
He attended the University of Texas at Austin and graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a bachelor's degree in Latin American Affairs in 1973, taking only two and a half years to complete his work, and obtaining usually excellent grades. He registered for the draft, but the Vietnam War ended before his number came up.
After graduating early from college, Jeb Bush married the first and only woman he ever dated, Columba Garnica Gallo, on February 23, 1974. Their three children, now grown, can be seen in the photo at right: George P., John E. "Jeb", Jr. and Noelle.
Business success in Texas and abroad
After graduating from college, Jeb Bush, seen at left as a young executive, then went to work in an entry level position in the international division of Texas Commerce Bank, which was run by Ben Love, the Chairman. Love quickly snapped up the young college graduate for his office, where Bush assisted in drafting much of the Chairman's communications, as Bush was a capable writer. Because Jeb was not a business major, he was not accepted into the bank's executive training program.
However, due to Jeb Bush's strong performance and Spanish language skills, in November 1977 he was sent to Caracas , the capital of Venezuela, in South America, to open a new operation for the bank. Jeb moved his family to Caracas. He spent about two years there, working in international finance. In so doing, he earned his way into the executive program at the bank.
Bush was highly regarded within the bank. He attracted a lot of new business as a result of his effective networking in Venezuela, while maintaining credit quality, no easy task in that emerging market.
"I wasn't motivated for politics, I wasn't motivated because of ideology or anything. My dad's the greatest man I've ever met or will meet; I can predict that fairly confidently. It was payback time, simple as that." Jeb Bush
His father ultimately lost the Repuiblican nomination for president that year, but was nominated and elected as the nation's vice president. Several years later, Jeb's dad won his party's presidential nomination, and went on to win the election.
Business success in Miami, Florida
Following the 1980 presidential election, Jeb Bush and his family moved to Dade County, Florida outside of Miami. He took a job in real estate with Armando Codina , then a 32-year-old Cuban immigrant. Codina had made millions in a computer business, and just formed IntrAmerica Investments Inc. to pursue opportunities in real estate. Codina paid Bush $41,508 in 1981. Bush soon became a valuable salesman and realtor for Codina, and helped Codina build a very successful property business.
During Jeb's years in Miami, he was involved in many different entrepreneurial pursuits, including: 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 a sports team, the Jacksonville Jaguars; buying a shoe company that sold footwear in Panama; and, getting involved in a scheme to sell water pumps in Nigeria.
Because of Bush's effectiveness in Cordina's property business, Codina eventually agreed to take on Jeb as a partner in a new development business. It quickly became one of South Florida's leading real estate development firms. As a partner, Bush received 40% of the profits of the firm.
However, in June 1993, Jeb sold his share of the company he and Codina had built, for over one million dollars, in order to run for office. Although Jeb would win the Republican Party's nomination as its 1994 candidate for governor, he did not become governor as a result of his initial efforts.
Jeb Bush’s financial transactions --- in real estate, entrepreneurial pursuits and banking -- actually comprise but one part of the story of Jeb Bush’s early career years. In addition to successfully earning a living, Bush has reportedly “volunteered time to assist the Miami Children's Hospital, the United Way of Dade County and the Dade County Homeless Trust.”
In 1995, three years prior to winning the 1998 election for governor, Jeb Bush started a new non-profit organization. Described by some as a “think tank,” it was called The Foundation For Florida’s Future. Its mission was to influence public policy at the grassroots level.
A year later, in 1996, Jeb's new foundation published a book he co-wrote, Profiles in Courage. The book highlighted a number of ordinary people, detailing their true stories of uncommon courage. The foundation also published and distributed papers, such as "A New Lease on Learning: Florida's First Charter School," co-written by Bush. Bush subsequently wrote the foreword to another book, shown at right, published by the Heritage Foundation and written by Nina Shokraii Rees, School Choice 2000: What’s Happening in the States.
In his role as chairman of his foundation, Jeb Bush co-founded Dade County’s first charter school: Liberty City Charter, a grades K-6 elementary school. Situated in Liberty City, Florida, the school is located just outside of greater Miami, in an area plagued by poverty. The co-founder, working alongside Bush as a partner, was T. Williard Fair, a well-known local black activist and head of the Greater Miami Urban League.
The Liberty City Charter School still operates today as a charter school. The children Bush and Fair want to educate at this school come from a population having these demographics: 91% black, 66% of households headed by women, and 49% below the poverty line.
The experience Jeb Bush had in co-founding this new educational institution was apparently not limited to raising money, according to Bill Maxwell, a St Petersburg Times columnist. When he later defended Bush against an allegation of racism, Maxwell wrote the following in his column:
...I do not believe that Jeb is a racist today. He may have been one a few years ago, before he ran into that irremovable object called reality, before he met Greater Miami Urban League President T. Willard Fair. I know for a fact that Fair, along with other African-Americans, iinfluenced Jeb in positive ways. They established Florida's first charter school in Miami's predominantly black Liberty City community.
On more than one occasion, I have seen Jeb interact with black parents and children at the school, and I am convinced that the man has learned to care. Yes, Jeb is arrogant, impatient and has many of the other traits that come with being privileged.
But racist? I do not think so.... Bill Maxwell
In addition to his successful business career and active civic life, Jeb Bush underwent a religious conversion during his early career years.
At the urging of his wife, Columba, a devout Mexican Catholic, the Protestant Bush became a Roman Catholic. He and his wife belonged to the Epiphany Catholic Church in Miami for many years.
Rather than fade into the annals of political history after his defeat for the governorship in 1994 at the age of 41, Jeb Bush then refocused and worked hard to re-establish himself, with a life-changing religious conversion, substantial civic involvement and a strong business background. At a more mature and seasoned 45 years of age, a new Jeb Bush emerged, and launched a 2nd bid to win the governor’s race in 1998 -- this time, succeeding.
Jeb Bush speaks Spanish fluently, in addition to English. He has delivered speeches in both English and Spanish to appeal to the Hispanic population of the Florida, Miami being a population destination for South American immigrants and refugees.
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 once again to work on his father's presidential campaign.
In 1989 he served as the campaign manager of Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the first Cuban-American to serve in Congress.
Governor of Florida
In 1998, Bush defeated Democratic opponent Buddy MacKay (55% to 45%) to become governor, after courting moderate voters and Hispanics. Simultaneously, his brother George W. Bush won a landslide re-election victory for a second term as Governor of Texas, and the Bush brothers became the first siblings to govern two states at the same time since Nelson and Winthrop Rockefeller governed New York and Arkansas from 1967 to 1971.
Jeb and EducationHis administration has been marked by a focus on public education reform. Bush's "A+ Plan" mandated standardized testing in Florida's public schools, eliminated social promotion and established a system of funding public schools based on a statewide grading system.
Bush has been a proponent of school vouchers and charter schools, especially in areas of the state with failing public schools, although to date very few schools have received failing grades from the state.
One program that has seen fruition is the Florida Virtual High School, a distance-learning program that allows students in rural areas of the state to take Advanced Placement classes for college credit
Jeb and the Environment
Bush has also been a vocal advocate of environmentalism, passing legislation to protect the Everglades and opposing his brother's plans to drill for oil off the coast of Florida.
Jeb and Taxes
Like most Republicans, he is perceived as being generally pro-business, and has worked to keep taxes low in Florida.
Jeb and his Record
Some opponents questioned whether he or his Secretary of State had attempted to help his brother in the 2000 presidential election, in which his brother's victory over Democratic candidate Al Gore was secured through a complicated process of recounts and court battles in Florida. They also pointed to Jeb Bush's daughter Noelle Bush who successfully completed rehabilitation for her drug abuse. Other opponents questioned some of his business dealings, including a Nigerian deal, where it is claimed Nigerian government officials demanded bribes in return for approval of a $74 million water pump sale that was mostly financed by US foreign aid.
Governor Bush was involved for many years in the case of Terri Schiavo, a brain-damaged woman on a feeding tube whose husband demanded her feeding tube removed. Bush, who is pro-life, signed "Terri's Law ," a law passed by the Florida legislature that permitted the Governor to keep Schiavo alive. The law was successfully challenged in court, and ruled unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court on September 23, 2004. That decision was appealed to the federal courts, but on January 24, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case, thus allowing the Florida court's ruling to stand. Conservative critics were very unhappy Bush did not take further action to keep Terri alive.
Despite these critics, Bush's policies have consistently remained popular overall in Florida -- a state with more registered Democrat than Republican voters, and an influential and crucial number of independent swing voters, who are broadly recognized as determining the final outcome of every state election.
One of the most important goals of Bush's final two years as governor is to secure the FTAA Secretariat for Miami. The Governor intends Miami to become the Brussels of the Americas.
How Jeb Bush made political history
If Republican Jeb Bush had decided to let history be his guide, he also might have decided not to seek a 2nd term as governor of Florida. No Republican had ever been re-elected to serve a 2nd term as Florida's governor.
In addition, there was likely no precedent for any governor to be branded by the opposition as its "Number One Target" for removal from office, as Jeb Bush found himself ranked in 2002. This was not merely a statewide Democrat effort to oust the Republican Jeb Bush, but a much-publicized goal of the national Democrat Party, and its top leadership, during the 2002 election cycle.
Despite this scenario, Jeb Bush was determined to serve a 2nd term as governor.
Jeb Bush almost faced a female candidate, Janet Reno, in the 2002 Florida governor's race. Reno, a well-known Florida native, experienced politician and former US Attorney General, was a favorite candidate to Florida's most liberal voters. However, a number of other Democrat candidates also wanted to become Florida's next governor, including a man named Bill McBride. A lawyer who owned a law firm in Florida, and a novice candidate, McBride was favored by national Dem Party leaders in part because of his military background -- and perceived ability to attract conservative Florida voters.
In the ensuing Democrat primary contest (where only Democrat voters could vote, pursuant to state primary laws), circumstances surrounding the razor-thin win by Bill McBride outraged many liberal Democrat voters in South Florida. Several pundits claimed what happened was actually far more unfair than any previously alleged voting irregularities in the state's history. Some voting venues -- located in Reno's urban strongholds of Broward County and Dade County, and operated by Democrats elected as county election officials -- reportedly opened hours late, and then ignored Gov. Jeb Bush's Executive Order, issued at Reno's request, to stay open later to accomodate all voters. As a result of this situation, Gov. Jeb Bush subsequently used his legal authority as governor to remove Broward County's Election Supervisor from office.
In this closely watched Florida governor's race which continuously attracted national attention, Jeb Bush was re-elected in November 2002, becoming the first Republican in the state's history to be re-elected as governor. Bush defeated Democrat challenger Bill McBride by more than 56% to 43%, a greater margin of victory than in Bush's 1998 win for the governor's office. Bush also increased the number of counties in his victory column, winning several Florida counties for the very first time. Jeb's father, shown at left embracing the newly re-elected Florida governor, shared his son's joy on this historic election night in 2002.
When Jeb Bush completes his term in January 2007, he will become only the second Florida governor to complete two full four-year terms in office, the first being Democrat Reubin O'D. Askew. Bush has often publicly said he believes he has the best job in the world as governor of Florida. However, Florida is a state with term limits in its law, thereby preventing Bush from seeking a possible 3rd term.
Jeb Bush made political history not only by becoming the first Republican governor to ever win re-election in Florida, but also by being the first Florida governor to select a woman, Toni Jennings, shown at right, to serve as 2nd in command of the state, as Florida's lieutenant governor. No woman had ever been appointed or elected to that high office in Florida's executive branch of government. Interestingly, as no one yet knows who will be the 2006 Republican candidate for Florida governor, Jeb Bush has been quoted in local media as saying he is eager to see a woman lead Florida as its governor.
Bush is also the first state governor to hold office while having a brother simultaneously serve as the nation's two-term president. Perhaps even more notable to those who like to study election results is the following: back in Jeb Bush's initial race for governor in 1994, it was reported Bush lost by the smallest margin of votes in Florida history; however, after running on his 1st term record in his 2002 campaign for a 2nd term, Jeb Bush won by the largest margin of votes in Florida history!
Jeb Bush is widely considered to be a rising star of the Republican Party; there was some speculation that he might run for President himself in 2008. However, on October 17, 2004, he officially took himself out of the running in the 2008 election. Some have guessed that Bush would run against Florida's current Democrat senator, Bill Nelson, in the 2006 U.S. Senate election.
Jeb's appeal to Florida voters
Bush is seen as extremely popular among Cubans in Florida (winning 80% of the Cuban vote in 2002), and popular among non-Cuban Hispanics (56% in 2002, equaling the 56% he won statewide). As a longtime supporter of Israel, Jeb Bush also maintains a significant connection to Florida's Jewish voters. He was endorsed in his two winning governor races by a national Jewish publication, and won 44% of the state's Jewish vote in the 2002 governor's race. Many black voters continue to strongly support his constant focus on public education and parental choice in education, and a number of Black Republican clubs have sprung up in Florida. In his historic re-election in 2002, Bush surprised critics by winning the white female vote in the swing-voting battleground of Central Florida's I-4 corridor. Most recently, he has reached out extensively to Florida's Haitian community, taking on a unique leadership role to help rebuild that neighboring country and assist its impoverished people.
Jeb's impact on his political party
Jeb Bush's proven appeal to Florida's highly diverse group of voters, along with his groundbreaking 2nd term and irrefutable success in expanding the so-called "big tent" of the Florida Republican Party he heads, appears to have propelled him into a commanding political position, with unlimited future leadership opportunities. Nationwide, American conservatives in general tend to feel positive and excited about Jeb Bush, because they see him as far more committed than most Republican leaders to upholding core conservative principles. Bush strives to personally keep in touch with his base, as when he emailed his thanks to his most devoted supporters, on a conservative web site, within 24 hours after winning the 2002 governor's race. Throughout his two administrations, Jeb Bush's office has touted his record of non-discrimination and rewarding merit, claiming he employs highly qualified women, blacks and other minorities more often in top-level government positions than any previous Florida governor.
Republican candidates in Florida seem to have likewise benefited from Jeb Bush's leadership, turning the state's Senate and House of Representatives into solid Republican majorities during Bush's time in office. Outside Florida, fellow Republican leaders throughout the country have sought Jeb Bush's aid both on and off the campaign trail. Bush's out of state campaign visits include Kentucky, where Republican challenger Ernie Fletcher appeared with Jeb Bush and won that state's governorship in 2003, ending a 32-year streak of Democrat governors. On the west coast, after Democrat Governor Gray Davis was ousted in a California recall vote, Jeb Bush dispatched Florida's budget director to that state to lead an independent audit of California's budget, at the request of the state's newly elected Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Jeb's on-going interestsBush has also been active in the neo-conservative Project for the New American Century, whose goal is to promote American global leadership. In addition, since 2004, Jeb Bush has been serving a 4-year term as a Board Member for the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB).
Although Jeb Bush ruled out a 2008 White House, and publicly said he will not run for a US Senate seat in 2006, he did create a new web site for himself, in 2004, which is the first time he has done so when not officially a candidate. You can visit Jeb Bush's new web site here: www.jeb.org
- Jeb Bush: The Son Rises Away from Dad's Shadow, by Sydney P. Freedberg, The Miami Herald, August 15, 1994
- Bush and business: Fast success, brushes with mystery. By Andres Viglucci and Alfonso Chardy , The Miami Herald, October 5, 2002
- Jeb Bush: His early values shape his politics
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