Jeb Bush—along with three sitting governors, Chris Christie, Scott Walker and John Kasich—spent last weekend in Las Vegas for the “Sheldon Primary,” appealing to the uber-wealthy, ultra-conservative Sheldon Adelson at the annual meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition. Adelson, a casino magnate, is wondering where to place his bets in 2016—and with Christie in deep trouble, Bush is getting a close look.
There’s been a flurry of Bush-is-running pieces in the media since mid-March, a clear sign that Bush’s team is orchestrating something, sending up a trial balloon. Fox News notes that if he runs he might have to go up against a protégé, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, but that nevertheless:
A powerful network of Jeb Bush loyalists, from previous high-ranking campaign staffers to top donors, increasingly have been communicating and coalescing as they await a decision from the former Florida Republican governor on whether he will run for president in 2016. "We are keeping our powder dry."
Over at the Washington Post, a piece on Bush’s incipient campaign provides a number of details on the who’s who on Jeb’s team. Here’s the intro, in the piece by Philip Rucker and Robert Costa:
Many of the Republican Party’s most powerful insiders and financiers have begun a behind-the-scenes campaign to draft former Florida governor Jeb Bush into the 2016 presidential race, courting him and his intimates and starting talks on fundraising strategy.
According to the article, Bush is keeping in touch with key politicos around the country, such as Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, and he’s in regular touch with Sally Bradshaw, his political aide, strategist Mike Murphy and fundraiser Jack Oliver. He’s also brought on board a spokeswoman, Kristy Campbell, and travels alongside Josh Venable, an official as Bush’s education foundation who “serves on the side as Bush’s liaison with big donors,” the Post reported.
Like Christie, Bush would be the candidate of the GOP’s Establishment. It’s the millionaires and billionaires—literally the 1 percent of the 1 percent—who’ve been courting both, as likely opponents of the Tea Party wing of the Republican party. And like Christie, who’s alienated some on the far-right for his relatively mainstream positions—accepting the Medicaid provision of the Affordable Care Act for New Jersey, slamming critics of “sharia law,” acknowledging the need for gun control, and avoiding taking hard-right positions on issues such as immigration and gay rights—Bush has annoyed far-right Republican and Tea Party types on a number of fronts, including immigration and education, where Bush (like President Obama) supports the Common Core for schools.