Former Bush Admin Officials Running for Congress Not Embracing Brand

Former Bush Admin Officials Running for Congress Not Embracing Brand

As former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush ponders a potential presidential run in 2016, the enthusiasm with which veterans of his brother George W. Bush’s administration embrace the Bush brand may indicate whether his last name will be a liability. 

Ed Gillespie, a Karl Rove ally and veteran of the Republican National Committee and George W. Bush’s White House, is running as his own man to become Virginia’s next senator. 

The Bush brand took a significant hit due to Iraq, Katrina, and the TARP bailouts. Elise Stefanik, who is running for Congress in New York, told Bloomberg News that George W. Bush is viewed favorably by primary voters in her district. Taylor Griffin, another veteran of the Bush administration who is running for a House seat in Eastern North Carolina, has touted his work on terrorism issues in the Bush administration and his support from some administration officials. But he has also enthusiastically embraced Sarah Palin’s endorsement.

Conservative Nebraska Senate candidate Ben Sasse, who also worked in the Bush administration, has been touting his endorsements from Palin and Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT). He has a six-point lead two weeks before Nebraska’s Senate primary.

Bloomberg News notes that the manner in which these candidates “embrace the Bush brand–running on it, or running away from it–could be an early market test for Jeb Bush, now considering his own presidential campaign.”

“The family brand is one of Jeb Bush’s biggest assets and biggest liabilities, as the younger brother of George W. Bush and son of ex-President George H.W. Bush,” Bloomberg writes. 

And though Jeb Bush has embraced amnesty and the Common Core, Gillespie has opposed those policies, even though Gillespie had supported comprehensive immigration reform in the past. That may be a sign that even if the Bush brand is not as toxic as it was during 2006 and 2008, Jeb Bush’s espousal of those two issues may be a huge liability for him among the GOP base. 

“This is the first time that it’s actually me talking about what I’m for, what I would do and laying out my views and beliefs,” Gillespie told Bloomberg News. “Those experiences were very helpful in helping me to form those views, but I’m running as Ed Gillespie.”

A Washington Post-ABC News poll found that half the country would definitely not vote for Jeb Bush in a general election, while another poll found that only 15% of Americans want Jeb Bush to run for president.