If there was ever an actual republican establishment that could be identified in some tangible way it would be Jeb Bush’s massive Florida machine. Still the most influential republican politician in the state, Bush has maintained his relevancy through two activist education foundations and the state big business giants, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Florida Council of 100. If one is part of the Florida Bush Machine they are indeed well-connected, but don’t venture away from the Machine’s agenda.
Just ask Marco Rubio.
Through the efforts of Jeb Bush’s Right to Rise PAC, $20 million has been spent on negative advertising intended to discredit Rubio’s candidacy. From Tampa Bay Times Political Editor Adam Smith:
The longer Bush stays in the race, with his campaign and super PAC spending millions to tear down mainstream conservative rivals, the thinking goes, the more likely he is to hand the GOP nomination to Cruz or Trump and ensure Hillary Clinton is the next president.
Republican consultant Rick Wilson, a Rubio supporter from Tallahassee, said Bush is in danger of damaging the legacy of goodwill built by his father and brother among Republicans.
“When does the campaign that is obviously not moving forward and the only thing it can do is destroy Marco Rubio, when does that campaign finally tip over and destroy that legacy?” Wilson said. “He would get out tomorrow if he was getting advice looking beyond the horizon of this campaign. He would say, ‘In order to nominate somebody who isn’t going to lead us to electoral disaster, I believe it’s time to leave this race.’ “
Jeb Bush is not his presidential father or brother. The warm fuzzies for Jeb Bush only exist in the hearts of the relatively small number of his well-connected Machine, Floridians all. And it has been Jeb being Jeb, the ultimate operator which brought in the cash which fuels the Right to Rise PAC. It is savaging Rubio right now.
And to what end?
But even before the first votes are cast, some longtime admirers are calling on Bush to pull the plug for the good of the GOP.
“It is more and more amazing that Jeb Bush, a great and kind man, can still look at himself in the mirror and think he, a governor out of office since January 2007, would be better than Marco Rubio to take on Cruz, Trump, and then Clinton,” radio commentator Erick Erickson wrote earlier this month on RedState.com.
The narrowness of the affection for Bush in his own state is evidenced in polling data from RealClearPolitics in which Bush is 4th in his own state of Florida behind Rubio, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. Nine out of ten likely GOP voters in Florida are choosing someone other than Jeb Bush.
Erickson speaks to a Jeb Bush hubris of which Floridians are much aware but which his Machine is very much unaware. Even blind to. Not the respected statesmen his brother and father now are seen by a majority of republican voters, Jeb is coming off as recklessly ambitious.
A creepy sense of entitlement is driving Jeb Bush that’s in a way matched by the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. It’s just their turn to be president. Neither cares if they take down their own party’s chance at the White House.