Jeb Bush for Senate: Will he or won't he?

What at first seemed like a sure thing now appears to be no more than a 50/50 chance that Jeb Bush would jump into the Florida senate race.

Family and business considerations are the reasons being circulated:

Bush may conclude after completing his methodical review process that there are other ways he can help rebuild the GOP besides a Senate career that would take a toll on his consulting business and be difficult for his family.

"I know it's a big struggle for him,'' said former state Republican chairman Al Cardenas, who believes Bush is still undecided. "As his friend I think maybe he's better off where he is. As a Republican who loves his party so much, I know we need him."

Bush, 55, has been discussing a potential bid with fundraisers, friends and political activists since Republican incumbent Mel Martinez announced Dec. 2 that he would not seek a second term in 2010. But even close friends say Bush has given little hint about his leanings.

"It's a huge decision to run for this seat because it's not like taking a job. It's a long-term commitment,'' said John Rood, a Jacksonville developer and top Republican fundraiser. "If he does it, I'll work very hard for him. If he decides not to do it, I'll understand because he's already given a lot to the state."

No doubt that family and business reasons are part of his deliberations. But I suspect there are other calculations Jeb is making - not the least of which is what would be the best road to the White House.

Despite Obama and McCain getting their party nominations while sitting senators, historically it is a very rough road for a senator to be successful in capturing the White House. Bush may be eyeing 2012 if Obama falls on his face and he would probably have to make some kind of committment to Florida voters that he wouldn't seek the presidency while in office in order to win a general election. This would prevent him from running until 2016 when he will be 63 years old - not ancient but the GOP is likely to be looking for younger, fresher facecs by then.

And perhaps someone who isn't named "Bush."