Could Jeb Bush Win ‘Blue State’ California in 2016?

LATINO PERSPECTIVE-Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who like any Republican would be hard pressed to win traditionally Democratic California in a general election, nonetheless will plunder the riches of the Golden State in the coming days as part of a nonstop fundraising tour for the Right to Rise Super PAC set up to back his expected formal entry into the 2016 presidential race. 

No Republican has carried California in a presidential campaign since Ronald Reagan, with Democratic nominees winning the state overwhelmingly since then. Action movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger, though won two governor’s races, filling the GOP with hopes that have not materialized in statewide elections. 

Jeb Bush (with wife, photo above), who would be the most moderate of Republicans since that time has again heightened GOP expectations, should he run and win the nomination. Even so, his visit isn’t so much about laying any groundwork for a California campaign as it is to tap into its vast fundraising coffers in an era targeting the super rich able to support today’s super PACs. 

On Monday Bush will be in Newport Beach, Calif., for a $25,000-per-couple event at the Pacific Club, and the next day in Bel Air at the home of Maria and Robert Tuttle, who was ambassador to the United Kingdom under President George W. Bush. 

Other hosts include Brad Freeman, co-founder of an investment firm and a major fundraiser for George W. Bush, and former ambassador to Austria Susan McCaw and her husband Craig McCaw, a cellular phone industry multimillionaire. 

Supporters attending the reception and dinner are being asked to give $100,000 per couple.

On Thursday the Bush fundraising campaign is scheduled to make a stop in San Francisco for a “luncheon and discussion” at the Mandarin Oriental, hosted by venture capitalist Jay Kern and his wife Katie, as well as billionaire school choice advocates Bill and Susan Oberndorf. 

Bush will be moving to California from Texas where he attended another $100,000 per couple Wednesday evening reception at the home of financial services executive Gerald J. Ford, who paid $20 million for the stadium at Southern Methodist University to bear his name. 

That was to be followed by a fundraising event in Houston on Thursday night where Jeb’s parents, former President George H. W. Bush and his wife, were expected to make a rare appearance, along with former President George W. Bush and wife Laura. 

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While not yet formally announced, Jeb Bush already has harnessed top national political advisers and is showing that he can challenge other potential candidates for the big fundraising money in Texas and California. Bush, though living in and being elected governor in Florida, is a native Texan, having been born in Midland. 

Will the change in presidential campaign fundraising, as the super PACS and their uber-rich donors have replaced the campaign bundlers of past years, increase the chances for Jeb Bush or any Republican in California where expensive media buys to appeal to a sprawling electorate skyrocket the costs? 

All anyone knows for certain is that 2016 is bound to be the most expensive presidential campaign in American history.  

For Bush, though, this coming week’s fundraising is only part of a plan for California, should he be the GOP nominee. 

Bush, the brother and son of the two last Republican presidents, George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush, is also at the heart of the GOP’s Latino-wooing dreams. 

“His Hispanic family ties and his pro-Latino record make Jeb Bush the face of any serious Republican effort to extend a sincere olive branch to Hispanic voters,” said California consultant William Orozco, who worked with friends of the Bush family in exploring the political possibilities in past years. 

Bush’s wife is Mexican-American. He speaks Spanish fluently. And Bush himself has a long history advocating a comprehensive immigration reform. 

For the moment, though, the Jeb Bush campaign focus is on raising money in record sums.

Bush’s political action committee, the Right to Rise PAC, along with its sister “super PAC” of the same name are expected to smash the $42 million that Mitt Romney raised nationwide during the primaries en route to the Republican nomination for the White House in 2012. 

Ted Cruz, the Republican U.S. senator who so far is the only major candidate in the 2016 race, has acknowledged that “nobody is going to manage to keep up” with Bush on fund-raising. 

“He is going to shatter every fundraising record that’s ever been set,” Cruz said of Bush this week in interviews after announcing his candidacy. “He set the goal of $100 million this quarter. My guess is he blows past that goal. He ends up raising way more than $100 million.”


(Tony Castro is the author of the newly-released "The Prince of South Waco: American Dreams and Great Expectations," as well as of the critically-acclaimed “Chicano Power: The Emergence of Mexican America” and the best-selling “Mickey Mantle: America’s Prodigal Son." Castro writes for  where this piece was first posted.)





Vol 13 Issue 27

Pub: Mar 31, 2015