Jeb! backs Atwaterby Dara Kam | January 20th, 2010
Former Gov. Jeb Bush is supporting Senate President Jeff Atwater in his statewide run for chief financial officer, even though Atwater has a Republican opponent in the primary.
Atwater’s campaign released the announcement Wednesday, along with a link to a YouTube video in which Bush, still influential in GOP politics in Florida, says of Atwater, “It’s his life experience of being a committed family person, of being a successful businessman and also having served in positions of increasing responsibility in the Florida Legislature that have made Jeff uniquely qualified to handle this job.”
Atwater, a North Palm Beach banker, faces Republican state Rep. Pat Patterson, an insurance agent from DeLand, in the primary. Atwater has $1.5 million in campaign cash, compared with Patterson’s $47,000 as of Jan. 1.
For the Democrats, former state Rep. Loranne Ausley recently entered the race.
Bush, who carries enormous cachet among Republican base voters, is backing Attorney General Bill McCollum for governor in the Republican primary against state Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, but has declined to endorse anyone in the U.S. Senate GOP primary between Gov. Charlie Crist and former House Speaker Marco Rubio.
Atwater extolled Bush’s clout. “He remains an extraordinarily popular figure. Not always maybe based upon each decision that he made but he had both the capacity and the determination to make a decision. I think people admire that to this day,” Atwater said. “This guy knows what Florida’s needs were and he wasn’t afraid to face them straight on.”