Jeb Bush for GOP chairman?
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will be appearing on CNN's Sunday talk show this weekend, and if host Candy Crowley wants to make news, perhaps she should ask if he's interested in leading the national Republican Party for the next two years.
Bush, who has already ruled out a run for president in 2012, is being interviewed with his big brother, currently campaigning for his place in history and selling books.
Jeb, on the other hand, is taking a victory lap after Florida Republicans scored big in last week's election and may be looking to raise his political profile.
He has close ties to Marco Rubio, who won election to the U.S. Senate and will be the nation's first Hispanic senator with tea party connections. Meantime, Florida Republican Gov.-elect Rick Scott has placed three of Jeb's close political associates and former aides on his transition team.
As the next national Republican race, the one for national committee chairman, takes shape, a member of the anti-Steele caucus, Katon Dawson of South Carolina, has been dropping Jeb's name into conversations about possible alternatives to incumbent Chairman Michael S. Steele, who is expected to seek another two-year term in January.
Dawson said earlier this week he'd had no indication that Bush was interested. Today, he emailed that "a big, big name" could join the chairmanship contest late next week. Asked if the name might be Jeb Bush, he replied enigmatically that "no names surfaced yet."
Pursuing the party job would let Bush re-enter the partisan realm, as memories of his brother's administration fade. He's a prodigious fundraiser--which is what the job of national chairman is really all about--and he could help the party reach out to Hispanics--a high-priority task if Republicans hope to thrive in a rapidly changing America.
One Republican strategist with Bush and Rubio ties, who said he'd heard no talk of a Bush run for chairman, nevertheless said that he loved the idea.
Over the next two years, a generation of potential Republican rivals will be duking it out for the presidential nomination. If one of them unseats Barack Obama, it could well end Jeb's chances of becoming a third President Bush (he'd be 67 in 2020). Otherwise, he could be well-positioned for a run in 2016, when the White House would be wide open again.
Of course, it's by no means clear that he has any interest in the party post. Has he got the patience for the more mundane aspects of the job? Would he consider the position beneath him? Has he got better things to do? And would he be trying to emerge too soon? After all, his mother recently remarked that the country is "Bushed out," as Crowley said in an online posting.
Perhaps we'll get some answers Sunday. It couldn't hurt to ask.