When former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush started hinting at a run for president, many expected that his rising-political-star scion, George P. Bush, would be a key way for the 62-year-old to connect to younger voters.
But that job seems to falling to a son who hasn’t been in the headlines and spotlight nearly as much as George – Jeb Bush Jr., a Florida businessman.
Jeb Jr.’s appeal to the younger crowd displayed itself in February at an event in Washington in support of his father’s Right to Rise PAC. More than 400 millennials turned out, surprising even the organizers. Jeb Jr., who is 31, had been billed as the main attraction, according to Politico.
That has led to more events in New York, Miami, Houston, and Los Angeles, among other places, with Jeb Jr. as the star. Each has attracted no less than 100 people.
“Dad’s unifying message of opportunity and the ‘Right to Rise’ has been energizing young professionals and mobilizing support from millennials across the country,” Jeb Jr. said in an email quoted by Politico.
Jeb Jr. has not been totally out of politics. He is chairman and co-founder of Sunpac, a Florida-based Latino outreach group that promotes conservative values and principles. He also sits on the board of the National Immigration Forum, a lobby group that favors liberal immigration policies, including giving undocumented immigrants a path to legal status.
“The name of the PAC is ‘Right to Rise,’ and that message of economic uplift hits home with these young people, many of whom are college graduates saddled with mountains of debt who are struggling to find real opportunity,” Politico quoted Daniel Diaz Leyva, a Bush family friend, as saying. “People are looking for a path to upward mobility, and a lot of Gov. Bush’s platform — his belief in education reform, vocational training and licensing, his support for immigration reform — speaks to that.”
Jeb Jr. is Chief Operating Officer at Jeb Bush & Associates and President of Bush Realty, LLC.
“He tells a joke about working for Jeb Bush and Associates,” Leyva said. “He’ll say, ‘My dad is Jeb Bush — and I’m Associates.”
He studied at the University of Texas at Austin, receiving a bachelor’s degree in Latin American studies. He got his masters in international real estate finance at Florida International University.
“Jeb Jr. gives great perspective because he understands our issues on a personal level,” said T.J. Villamil, a University of Florida graduate who has gone to Right to Rise events in Florida. “You can also look at him and immediately get a better sense of Jeb and know that when he talks about the need for immigration reform, it’s not just a political position — it’s personal.”
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