Conservative_Hurricane_RGBConservative Hurricane: How Jeb Bush Remade Florida

Matthew T. Corrigan

Few governors in modern history have altered the balance of power in their states as fundamentally as Jeb Bush did in Florida. Both hailed and reviled as the most consequential governor to be sworn into office in Tallahassee, Bush radically–and perhaps permanently–changed the dynamics of Florida politics as the first two-term Republican governor of a historically Democrat-voting state.

In Conservative Hurricane, Matthew Corrigan delves into the maelstrom of Florida politics where Bush rose to power to become an unstoppable force in state and national politics. Corrigan traces Bush’s political trajectory from an ambitious but failed first campaign to his eventual consolidation of executive authority. Fair and honest in his analysis, Corrigan probes beyond the mild veneer, the sound bites, and the photo ops to examine the real evidence of Bush’s political leanings: his policies, politics, and legacy in the Sunshine State.

Assessing a multitude of the governor’s social and economic policies and the indelible mark they have left on the state, Corrigan highlight’s Bush’s approach to business recruitment; his response to the culture wars; his stance on gun rights, end-of-life issues, and immigration; and his sweeping education reforms–all of which have become touchstones and controversies for Republican leaders elsewhere. Corrigan concludes that the most effective challenge to the opinion of national observers who label Bush a moderate is his own record. Ultimately, anyone who opposes–or desires–a Jeb Bush presidency need only glimpse at Florida to understand what that might look like.

Matthew Corrigan takes a few minutes to share how he came to write about Florida’s influential governor.

Tell us how you first became interested in politics.

I have been interested in politics since watching the Watergate hearings in the 1970s.  I studied government at University of Notre Dame and received my doctorate in political science from the University of Florida.

Why did you decide to write about Jeb Bush?

I saw him as a powerful governor in one of the most important political states in the nation. In many ways, his family’s political power and achievements have been more than the Kennedy’s.

How do people usually react when you tell them Jeb Bush was an aggressive conservative?

People generally forget what a conservative governor he was.  The current Tea Party movement has redefined conservatism in some ways. This book reminds people how conservative he really was.

If you could ask Jeb Bush one question, what would it be and why?

Since some of your ideas about immigration reform and educational testing are under attack by some in the Republican party, don’t you need to run for President to defend your core political beliefs?

 What do you hope readers will enjoy the most about your book?  

A better understanding of a governor who does not reveal much about himself.

 What are you currently reading?

Duty by Bob Gates

 Who are your favorite authors, and how have they influenced or informed your own work?

My favorite authors include David Brooks and Fareed Zakaria, and their readable, extensive political analysis.

What are you working on next?

I may do a book on child welfare policy in Florida.

Do you have one sentence of advice for new authors?

Budget your time!

Corrigan, Matt

Matthew T. Corrigan is professor and chair of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at the University of North Florida. His previous books are Race, Religion, and Economic Change and American Royalty, which focuses on the Clinton and Bush families. During the aftermath of the 2000 presidential election, he was a consultant to Duval County, Florida, and assisted county leaders in reforming the county’s voting system. During presidential and gubernational election nights, he works as a consultant for the Associated Press analyzing exit polls and turnout data for the state of Florida. He lives in Jacksonville with his wife, Mary, and children, John and Jane. 

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