Jeb Bush rallies Florida loyalists ahead of 2016 decision

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About two dozen friends, supporters and fundraisers loyal to Jeb Bush met with former governor in Miami this week to discuss details of a possible White House run.

Although the meeting was more social than political, attendees tell Beth Reinhard and Max Colchester of the Wall Street Journal that guest list will form the heart of Bush’s Florida funding team, if he should decide to run. Many at the dinner were family friends for more than 20 years.

At the confab were two close Bush advisers: former chief of staff Sally Bradshaw and Mike Murphy, the man behind John McCain’s 2000 presidential campaign. According to attendees, who told reporters they were instructed not to discuss details, the pair promised that they would bring an “innovative” campaign.

Bush assured the group he was serious about exploring a 2016 campaign, which he said would be done “joyfully.” Moreover, if he decided to run, he would give it his all, more than any other candidate would.

Another suggestion of Bush’s plans could be his departure from British bank Barclays PLC, where he has been an adviser since 2009, effective December 31.

The Journal noted that the gathering took place Wednesday at the home of Manny Kadre, a Coral Gables automotive and beverage executive. Attendees included former American Conservative Union Chair Al Cardenas, now a lobbyist; Armando Codina, a former Bush business partner; John Rood, former ambassador to the Bahamas; former RNC national finance chair Al Hoffman and Toni Jennings, Bush’s former lieutenant governor.

Also at the event were former Iceland ambassador Chuck Cobb; real estate developers Ed Easton, Peter Rummell and Mark Guzzetta; Francis Rooney, the former ambassador to the Holy See; developer Mel Sembler, also a former Republican National Committee finance chair; insurance executive Tom Petway; Phil Handy, CEO of Strategic Industries and former Florida Board of Education chair; health care executive Mike Fernandez; Bill Becker, a citrus grower; and retired lobbyist Jim Blosser.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.