WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will run for president in 2016, according to several senior aides who confirmed Thursday that the Republican would announce his widely expected decision in Miami later this month.
As the son of one president and brother of another, Bush would be the third member of his immediate family to sit in the Oval Office if elected. His decision to run ensures the possibility of a general election showdown between two political families as Hillary Rodham Clinton eyes the Democratic presidential nomination.
Bush senior aides confirmed that the 62-year-old Bush, who left the Florida governor’s mansion in 2007, will enter the race during an event at Miami Dade College soon after returning from a weeklong European trip. The aides spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the decision ahead of the formal announcement.
“My expectation, my hope, is I’ll be a candidate,” Bush said earlier in this week while attending an economic forum in Florida with other 2016 GOP prospects.
There’s been little mystery to Bush’s plans. He’s been raising many millions of dollars for a separate political group that is expected to support his candidacy and perform many of the functions of a campaign, although with dollars not bound by the same federal requirements as a formal campaign committee.
Bush enters the race as the overwhelming favorite of the Republican establishment, and he is expected to dominate his GOP competitors in fundraising. Yet he faces considerable resistance from the party’s conservative flank, which holds outsized influence in the Republican presidential primary process.
Bush will enter a large primary field that includes Sens. Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, among others. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry joined the race Thursday.
Meanwhile, Govs. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Chris Christie of New Jersey have not yet announced their intentions, but they have been hiring staff and visiting early-voting states such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
By announcing his candidacy, Bush must stop coordinating with Right to Rise, a so-called super PAC which can raise unlimited dollars so long as there is no interaction between it and the candidate or his lieutenants. Bush has been working closely with longtime adviser Mike Murphy, who is expected to run the group, while David Kochel, a veteran aide to Mitt Romney, is expected to manage Bush’s campaign.
“Gov. Bush is thankful for the support and encouragement he has received from so many Americans during the last several months and looks forward to announcing his decision,” spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said.
Bush teased his announcement Thursday morning, writing “coming soon” on Twitter with a link to the website, http://jebannouncement.com. On that page, the date 06.15.15 was listed, followed by the tease, “BE THE FIRST TO KNOW. RSVP NOW!” Bush also tweeted it in Spanish, “Próximamente 6.15.15.”
By promoting his announcement in this way, Bush is also trying to collect new data about potential supporters. To receive the announcement through the website, voters must provide their name, email address and ZIP code.
On the tactical side, Bush’s candidacy will set in motion a nationwide fundraising network to begin soliciting contributions of as much as $2,700 — the limit under the rules — to his official campaign.
Bush is planning to visit the four early-voting states after the Miami announcement, beginning with New Hampshire on June 16, Iowa on June 17, South Carolina on June 18 and Nevada on June 27.
Beaumont reported from Des Moines, Iowa
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This story corrects the name to Miami Dade College, not Miami Dade Community College.