Jeb's Name Dominates Republican Race for Governor

Jeb Bush
TAMPA -

It seems for the Republican gubernatorial candidates, the name Jeb Bush has become a sort of incantation. The current Republican governor's name is often mentioned in campaign commercials and was invoked many times in the recent debates. Why does this race appear to be all about Jeb?

MARCH: To begin with, he will occupy a fairly important place in Florida political history. He was the first Republican governor since reconstruction or in modern history to get re-elected.

William March is a political reporter for the Tampa Tribune. He says aside from being popular, personally charismatic and well-known as the son of a former president, Jeb Bush, who had never held office before, became governor during a power shift in Florida politics.

MARCH: He came across, you know, sort of streaking across the sky like a comet to take away to take the governor's mansion away from the Democratic party and he did this at a time when the Republican party was in the process of taking over the reigns of power from the Democratic party who had held it since time immemorial. Um, you put all of those things together and the result is a person who is considered a hero, an icon by the Republicans. And that's why any Republican who is trying to make it in Florida politics is going to have to kowtow to the Jeb Bush legacy.

So which of the two Republican candidates, State Attorney General Charlie Crist, or Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher is the rightful holder of the Jeb Bush mantle? University of Central Florida Political Scientist Aubrey Jewett says he expects both to carry on Jeb's major policies, should they win the general election.

JEWETT: I think, probably, as far as who's as conservative as Jeb, it would be Gallagher. At least that's how he's running. One problem that Gallagher has had though is that traditionally, he's been a moderate for about 25 years in public office. And so just over the last couple of years has he sort of turned to the right. But if you take that change of heart at face value and say Tom Gallagher is conservative, then I'd say ideologically he's probably a little closer to Jeb. Where as Charlie Crist is probably different in a couple areas, the 24 hour waiting period for abortions, stem-cell research and a couple things like that.

When it comes to leadership styles, William March of the Tampa Tribune says Gallagher and Crist are very different.

MARCH: Tom Gallagher is known as something of a technocrat, he's been in government for 32 years, he's been involved in every major issue that's come down the pike. He knows the ins and outs of all of those issues. He's a person whose governing style has a lot to do with practicality, pragmatism, getting things done. Charlie is Charlie Crist, and everybody calls him Charlie because he's everybody's friend, he wants to be known that way. He's a person who is very much concerned with consumer-oriented issues, people-oriented issues, he's very much a 'people-person.' Gallagher is much less a 'people-person' in his governing style.

A recent poll says Crist holds a broad lead over Gallagher heading into the primary. And the exchanges between the two campaigns have become somewhat heated of late. But Gov. Bush says that's to be expected. And, by the way, Bush isn't saying who his rightful heir in the Republican party is.

BUSH: We'll see in September.

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