Report: Jeb Bush Loses 'Adelson Primary' Over James Baker's J-Street Speech

In a message to Bush, the casino magnate reportedly said that the move by the foreign policy adviser cost the would-be presidential candidate 'a lot of money.'

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Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush speaks at a town hall meeting in Puerto Rico, April 28, 2015.Credit: AP
Jacob Kornbluh

Ahead of an official announcement, potential Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush has apparently lost the coveted Adelson primary. According to a report by the National Review on Tuesday, the former Florida governor and brother of former President George W. Bush, is already a dead man, politically.

James Baker. Credit: Getty Images

“I think he’s lost the Sheldon primary,” an unnamed leader of a top conservative group was quoted by the publication.

The race to win Adelson’s heart and ultimately his money is being called the Adelson primary. With the exception of Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, the growing and crowded field of candidates, who have all recently expressed hawkish views on Iran and on foreign policy in general.

But failing to prevent his foreign policy adviser James Baker, a former secretary of state, from addressing the liberal-leaning Israel advocacy group J-Street conference in D.C., has apparently closed the door on Bush earning the billionaire’s endorsement.

Adelson sent a message to Bush’s inner circle that the potential candidate should tell Baker to cancel the speech. He reportedly became furious with Jeb after Baker addressed the J Street conference. A source with knowledge of the situation said the mega-donor sent word that the move cost the Florida governor “a lot of money.”

“He burned my ear up a little bit,” Mel Sembler, a member of the Republican Jewish Coalition board and a longtime Bush family supporter, was quoted by the New York Times. “He was upset, but I was upset myself, frankly. Jim Baker was out of line.”

During a recent question-and-answer session at a “meet and greet” event hosted by the Manhattan Republican Party in New York., Bush said he did not believe Baker should have addressed the J-Street conference, and disagreed with some of the conclusions in Baker’s speech. But Bush did however maintain that Baker’s remarks weren’t anti-Israel and that Baker is a supporter and friend of the Jewish State. According to several attendees, Bush repeatedly told the crowd that he had great respect for Baker.

Bush did not attend this year’s RJC leadership meeting last weekend in Las Vegas, but several of his supporters, as well as his son Jeb Bush Jr., were roaming the corridors of the hotel where the confab took place. Aides to the former governor also handed out buttons with “Jeb” emblazoned in Hebrew, according to the National Review.

Jacob Kornbluh is a political correspondent for

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