Prediction 2024: Jeb Bush will provide political cover for Jersey non-MAGA Republicans supporting DeSantis
In a recent interview, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush expressed his enthusiastic hope that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis will seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2024. This statement was viewed widely as an implicit endorsement of DeSantis by Jeb. My view is that within the next six months, Jeb will make his endorsement of DeSantis explicit.
Full disclosure: I proudly served in the Presidential administration of George W. Bush, known commonly as Bush 43. For all practical purposes, I have left the Republican Party, due to its hostile takeover by the MAGA movement, whose core philosophy is the Pat Buchanan creed of xenophobia, authoritarianism, and racism, as translated by Donald Trump. The Bushes are not in any way adherents to the MAGA creed, but they refuse to leave the one-time party of Lincoln because it is their historical inheritance.
I retain a loyalty to the Bush family, but I will not follow Jeb’s lead in supporting DeSantis. I have written at length about the appallingly racist nature of the DeSantis messaging. Yet I understand fully why the Bush family, who are not in any way racist or xenophobic will be active supporters of Ron DeSantis for President in 2024.
The Bush family maintains a strong antipathy towards The Donald, which I fully share. Their repugnance of The Donald was heightened by two factors over the past decade.
The first was the abusive way in which Donald Trump treated Jeb Bush in the 2016 presidential primary debates. The second was Trump’s endorsement for reelection of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in the Republican primary of 2022 over George P. Bush, son of Jeb Bush and former Texas Land Commissioner. The endorsement played a critical role in the Paxton victory over the Bush family political scion.
George P. Bush, 47, had been viewed as a strong Texas political prospect prior to the 2022 primary. He had actually sought to ingratiate himself with Donald Trump by entering the primary in 2021 with a video that praised Trump and did not mention his own father, grandfather, (President George H. W. Bush), or great-grandfather (Connecticut US Senator Prescott Bush). The Donald Trump endorsement was a cruel rebuff of George P., severely damaging his future political prospects.
In Ron DeSantis, the Bush family can endorse a candidate with a strong likelihood of victory over Donald Trump. Even a growing percentage of MAGA voters want to move beyond The Donald. They see him as a likely loser in view of the increasing possibility of his indictment. All this is having a deleterious impact on Trump’s fundraising, and The Donald will never use his own money for a political campaign.
The major problem for DeSantis is that his racist messaging will make it difficult for non-MAGA Republican voters in blue states to support him. This group includes a substantial number of major GOP fundraisers and donors. They definitely will not support Trump, but the racist messaging of DeSantis gives them pause. By contrast, this racist messaging is a major political asset for DeSantis in the red states.
New Jersey is such a blue state. DeSantis has no prospect of carrying New Jersey. In the past, however, even losing GOP presidential candidates, such as Bush 43 in 2000 and 2004 have raised mega dollars for their campaigns in the Garden State. DeSantis does not want to forgo the possibility of a major Jersey GOP fundraising haul.
And this is where Jeb Bush will be a powerful asset to the DeSantis campaign. He will become the de facto DeSantis Ambassador to the Blue States. Expect to see him often in New Jersey over the next year. To any prospective GOP fundraiser in New Jersey, Jeb will state the following:
“My wife, Columba is a WOMAN OF COLOR, an immigrant born in Mexico and proud of her heritage. There is no way that Columba and I would endorse Ron DeSantis if we believed that he was in the least racist”.
Coming from Jeb Bush, this is no doubt a supremely effective message. Non-MAGA GOP Jersey fundraisers are inclined to endorse DeSantis over Trump already, because Ron, unlike Don, never supported either the notion of the stolen election Big Lie or the January 6, 2021 insurrection against the United States government.
Ron is as much, if not more, of a racial cultural warrior as Don, but he is less of an authoritarian and does believe in the rule of law. Once these prospective Jersey GOP campaign financial moguls receive the soothing Jeb seal of approval of Ron as a non-racist, they will have all the political cover they need and be off to the DeSantis fundraising races.
Jeb will begin his DeSantis efforts in New Jersey by first attempting to secure the endorsements of the two men who ran his 2016 New Jersey presidential primary campaign, Larry Bathgate and former GOP state Senator Joe Kyrillos. Both these individuals possess both outstanding ethical and moral character and excellent political credentials. Both also have deserved public reputations for remarkable competence and emphatic opposition to racism and bigotry in any form.
Over the past four decades, Larry Bathgate has been one of America’s most proficient Republican campaign fundraisers. He also is in the elite of New Jersey real estate lawyers. His close relationship with the nationally famed Lakewood, New Jersey Orthodox Jewish community has brought him acclaim and appreciation throughout World Jewry. The Bush family regards Larry as an intimate family friend.
As a state senator representing Monmouth County, Joe Kyrillos compiled an historic legacy of legislation that both created incentives for economic development and improved the business climate. His senate office was a model of outstanding constituent service for other legislators to emulate. He and his wife, Susan are highly regarded in Monmouth County for their outstanding public spirited community involvement.
If Jeb Bush obtains the endorsements of Ron DeSantis from Larry Bathgate and Joe Kyrillos, this will result in numerous other New Jersey GOP fundraisers joining the DeSantis campaign fundraising effort. Among these fundraisers will be the usual plethora of political and business personages interested in a high position, Cabinet or otherwise, in a DeSantis administration.
Would Chris Christie be interested in a high position in a DeSantis administration, specifically Attorney General? Although Christie would disclaim such interest, there is a realistic possibility of that – more than people would think. I will discuss this at greater focus in my next column.
Alan J. Steinberg served as regional administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush and as executive director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission.
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We don’t need another failed Bush politician being involved in the Republican Party. New Jersey Republicans are NOT moderates. Most are conservatives and make up about 45-50% of voters. New Jersey’s largest political bloc consists of Independents. Many know that most Independents vote Democrat, so it’s not rocket science to figure that you’re not going to get the Independent vote whether you go moderate or conservative.
The only way to get a majority of the Independent vote is to cut property taxes by 75-100% by de-coupling the education tax from property taxes and have it paid through income and sales taxes. This would allow everyone to pay their EQUITABLE FAIR SHARE towards education in New Jersey.