Before stepping out onto the national stage, this Bush generation's ideas of incrementally smaller government proved popular with voters in two large states. George W. Bush defeated Democratic incumbent Ann Richards in 1994 to become governor of Texas and was re-elected in 1998. The Lone Star State is clearly among the most conservative in the country, but Gov. Bush helped turn what was once a reliably Democratic state into one where Republicans now dominate. Jeb, meanwhile, lost a hard-fought race for governor in Florida in 1994. But he came back four years later and was re-elected in 2002, despite the residual bitterness from the 2000 presidential election and the Democrats' decision to make his defeat a priority.With a strong string of electoral victories, why would Republicans now turn their backs on the Bushes? It certainly wouldn't be because of Jeb's record in Florida. He's been steadily amassing an antitax, bedrock conservative record over the past seven years. There's not much there that the party's base is going to hate. Indeed, before he lost in 1994, the scuttlebutt on Jeb was that he was "the conservative Bush."
Miniter denies that Jeb's last name could be a political liability:
Let's first dispense with the idea that Jeb's biggest liability would be his last name. Since when does name recognition hurt in politics? It's true that many of this brother's political adversaries would simply cross out "George" in their campaign literature and ink in "Jeb" above it. MoveOn.org and other Democratic interest groups would find plenty of willing donors. George Soros would likely make another multimillion-dollar pledge to drive the Bushes from Washington. But then again, they did all that last time, and we aren't discussing who will challenge President Kerry.
What do you think?