RALEIGH – Thursday morning the Jeb Bush 2016 presidential campaign announced the members of its N.C. steering committee who will spearhead campaign efforts in the state. The list reads like a who’s who of state conservative thought leaders. Campaign watchers say the list appeared to be carefully curated to focus on Bush’s successes as Florida’s governor.
“Governor Bush has a record of accomplishment that is unrivaled among any candidate seeking the presidency in either party,” said Dan Gurley, who is currently serving an appointment to the N.C. Ports Authority Board. “He knows how to lead, he knows how to govern. He is, beyond a shadow of a doubt the right man at the right time to lead America.”
Among those on the steering committee list is Darrell Allison, a education reformer and president of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina. Allison helped launch the advocacy group 10 years ago to push for increasing education options for parents, regardless of their income or zip code. That includes having led efforts to eliminate the cap on charter schools and creation of opportunity scholarships. He says Bush’s track record in Florida is a promising platform for substantial change in America’s education system.
“Its hard to talk about better jobs, better lifestyle or good health without talking about education,” said Allison “Absent a strong education for the next generation, we will not be as strong a nation as we have been.”
While Allison’s work on the steering committee does not indicate his group’s endorsement of Bush, PEFNC has been watching Bush’s work on the Florida school system closely. Recent moves in North Carolina to expand charter schools were heavily influenced by Bush’s education policies.
“You can put a policy on paper, but it’s another thing to see it in action,” said Allison. “But it’s not just what Bush accomplished as governor, it’s how he did it. He did it by bringing people together. In Florida the majority of the Latino caucus and other minority caucuses support choice in education… In fact, Florida now has the largest number of charter schools in the nation.”
Also on the list to burn the midnight oil for Bush is long-time Republican insider John Cooper. Now managing partner of Capital City Strategies in Raleigh, Cooper was a direct appointee of President Reagan and both Bush presidents. He knows economic development issues and their histories well. He thinks that Bush’s message will resonate with North Carolina Republicans.
“It’s an honest, hardworking family that is big on education and creating jobs.” said Cooper. “As governor, (Bush) brought 1.3 million jobs to Florida in eight years. The judges he appointed did the right thing and really followed the law. He’s pro-life and a great conservative leader.”
Job creation and building an economy for the 21st century is going to be a top issue for all Republican presidential candidates. Currently, Bush is trading the top spot in North Carolina polls back and forth with Donald Trump, depending on which poll is followed.
“As Senator Helms once told me, a day is a lifetime in politics,” said Cooper. “We have a long way to go, but I am very confident that Bush will win the Republican primary in North Carolina.”