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Is Jeb too green? GOP primary voters may think so

Dan Farber, professor of law | May 6, 2015

At this point, the GOP Presidential field looks like Jeb Bush versus Everyone Else. (Of course, there’s a big fight over who get’s to play Everyone Else when this particular play opens in Iowa and New Hampshire.) It’s an open question whether Jeb will turn out to be too green for the average GOP primary voter.

Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush at NOAA Earth Day, 2005 (via Wikimedia Commons)

Jeb has already been attacked by the Club for Growth on this basis. The Club’s communication director complains that “we did see hundreds of millions in state spending on Everglades restoration and environmental land purchases, and we will definitely raise that as a point of concern with his record.”

And there are other potential issues. Jeb supported efforts to keep offshore drilling away from Florida’s coasts, supporting a compromise with a 125-mile buffer zone. He has touted fracking as a way to reduce carbon emissions — like carbon emissions are a bad thing!  Politico reports speculation that he “could help bring Republicans back to a debate the party has not wanted to engage in because of Obama.”

From the point of view of at least some Republicans, he’s definitely getting praise from some of the wrong places. Another story from Politico has a telling quote:

“He was a green,” said Eric Draper, the executive director of the National Audubon Society’s Florida chapter, which had both worked with Bush on his Everglades restoration efforts but clashed with him on his handling of the Everglades’ pollution limits. “I actually miss him. He was one of Florida’s most effective governors, and I’m telling you that as a Democrat.”

You really don’t want the Audubon Society calling you a green if you’re running for the GOP nomination.  I guess it could be worse — it might have been the Sierra Club, which is probably better known to GOP voters.  But it’s still got to be awkward at this point in the process.

Jeb seems to be doing his best to stress his support for fracking plus expanded drilling, while fudging questions about climate change.  But it’s not clear whether the party base will forgive him for his past support for the Everglades and his generally pragmatic positions on environmental issues.

Cross-posted from the environmental law and policy blog Legal Planet.