December 11, 2015


Jeb taps Bush alumni for early-state push : How the former Florida governor, once shy about his famous last name, is leaning on his family's network. (ALEX ISENSTADT 12/10/15, Politico)

Bush's campaign hopes to turn his family into an advantage, exploiting a network that none of his rivals can lay claim to: a nationwide group of loyal foot soldiers who, over the course of decades, have powered the Bush dynasty.

His supporters do not lack for energy. Many of them are prepared to spend their upcoming weekends braving the frigid winters of Iowa and New Hampshire, knocking on doors, planting yard signs and making sure people vote for Bush.

"I'm a Florida boy. I'm not a fan of the cold," said Fritz Brogan, a Washington, D.C., restaurateur and fundraiser who served as an aide in the George W. Bush White House and said he is among an army of volunteers planning to come out in force. "But I'll do it for Jeb Bush."

"There is no doubt that this is an advantage for the campaign," he added. "I think this is a secret weapon."

"He's got bunch of supporters around the country who will do whatever they can to help his effort," said David Bates, who served as George H.W. Bush's deputy chief of staff during his vice presidency and then was secretary to the Cabinet after the elder Bush won the White House. Bates, who has known Jeb Bush for decades, plans to go to New Hampshire right before the Feb. 9 primary to canvass for him.

In addition to the White House alums, Bush's aides say they they're reaching out to a number of prospective volunteers, including the candidate's former staffers from his terms as governor and a group of students and young professionals. Last month, Bush's son Jeb Bush Jr. emailed supporters asking them to fill out an electronic form allowing them to detail their availability to help out.

"I know you have already gone above and beyond, but I am asking you to go the extra mile," he wrote. Bush volunteers are expected to begin working in Iowa on Jan. 2.

"One important key for our campaign in getting voters committed to Jeb Bush is sharing his story -- as a governor, as a leader, as a businessman, and as a father, husband and grandfather," explained Kristy Campbell, a Bush spokeswoman. "We think validators can serve an important role in our ground game in early states and throughout the calendar."

By the time of the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1, Bush's campaign hopes to have enlisted White House alumni from around the country. Most of them will fan out to the nearest early voting state: Those living on the West Coast, for example, are expected to focus their efforts in Nevada.

"I think it will be a pretty massive undertaking," said Brogan, who can recall working for Bush's 1998 gubernatorial campaign as a youth organizer. Last week, Brogan hosted Bush at Chinese Disco, a popular Georgetown bar he co-owns.

Helping to lead the alumni effort are Bates; Brian McCormack, a vice president for political and external affairs at the Edison Electric Institute who served as Vice President Dick Cheney's personal aide and also worked for George W. Bush; Lanny Griffith, George H.W. Bush's assistant secretary of education; and Therese Burch, a co-founder of a lifestyle advisory company who was a top advance and scheduling aide in George W. Bush's White House and also worked for his father.

Posted by at December 11, 2015 8:15 AM