WASHINGTON — Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will run for president in 2016, according to several senior aides, who confirmed Thursday that the Republican would formally announce his widely expected decision in Miami later this month.
As the son of one president and brother of another, Bush would be the third member of his immediate family to sit in the Oval Office. His decision ensures the possibility of a general election showdown between two political dynasties as Hillary Rodham Clinton eyes the Democratic presidential nomination.
Bush senior aides confirmed the 62-year-old Bush, who left the Florida governor’s mansion in 2007, will enter the race during an event at Miami Dade Community College soon after returning from a week-long European trip. The aides spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to preclude his formal announcement.
“My expectation, my hope, is I’ll be a candidate,” Bush said earlier in this week while attending an economic forum in Florida with other 2016 GOP prospects.
There’s been little mystery to Bush’s plans.
He’s been raising many millions of dollars for a separate political group that is expected to support his candidacy and perform many of the functions of a campaign, although with dollars not bound by the same federal requirements as a formal campaign committee.
Bush enters the race as the overwhelming favorite of the Republican establishment, and he is expected to dominate his GOP competitors in fundraising. Yet he faces considerable resistance from the party’s conservative flank, which holds outsized influence in the Republican presidential primary process.
Bush will enter a crowded primary field that includes Sens. Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, among others. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is also getting into the race, a decision he’ll make official Thursday in Dallas.
Meanwhile, Govs. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Chris Christie of New Jersey have not yet formally announced their intentions, but have been hiring staff and visiting early-voting states such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
By announcing his candidacy, Bush must stop coordinating with Right to Rise, a so-called super PAC which can raise unlimited dollars so long as there is no interaction between it and the candidate or his lieutenants. Bush has been working closely with longtime adviser Mike Murphy, who is expected to run the group, while David Kochel, a veteran aide to Mitt Romney, is expected to manage Bush’s campaign.
“Gov. Bush is thankful for the support and encouragement he has received from so many Americans during the last several months and looks forward to announcing his decision,” spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said.
Bush teased his announcement Thursday morning, writing “coming soon” on Twitter with a link to the website, http://jebannouncement.com. On that page, the date 06.15.15 was listed, followed by the tease, “BE THE FIRST TO KNOW. RSVP NOW!” Bush also tweeted it in Spanish, “Próximamente 6.15.15.”
By promoting his announcement in this way, Bush is also trying to collect new data about potential supporters. To receive the announcement through the website, voters must provide their name, email address and zip code.