"He obviously has a lot of good will built up given his family's history of distinguished service, but he also is a new candidate of a new generation," said Ryan Williams, who has worked for both John Sununus.
Jeb Bush would love for New Hampshire voters to take a similar stance on his lineage, but thus far, it appears his name is working against him. Almost 1 in 5 New Hampshire Republicans said they wouldn't vote for Bush given his heritage, according to a Bloomberg Politics/Saint Anselm College poll. In the same survey, nearly 60 percent of Republicans said Bush's "potential candidacy is based more on ... his family connections to politics." A plurality (35 percent) of Republican respondents in a Suffolk University poll said the first word or phrase that came to mind when they thought of "Jeb Bush" was some reference to his family. And more than any policy issue, 7 percent said they were "tired of the Bushes" or that there had been "too many Bushes."
It's not all doom and gloom for Jeb Bush, however. For one, the donor network that he inherits from his family ties is tremendous. And despite voters' dynastic concerns, early polling indicates that the Florida Republican remains in the top tier of candidates looking for the GOP nod in the second contest of the Republican primary. And as the public takes a brighter view of both the first and second President Bush—as is happening in CNN's latest national poll—it may serve to blunt some concern over the family name, or even swing it toward an advantage.
It's not unusual for New Hampshirites to find repeat surnames on their ballots. Hugh Gregg and his son Judd, both Republicans, have served as governor. Judd Gregg also represented the state in both chambers of Congress and, like Chris Sununu, on New Hampshire's Executive Council. Perkins Bass and his son Charles Bass, also Republicans, represented the same congressional district in the state, and Perkins Bass' father, Robert, was a governor. As for Democratic Rep. Ann McLane Kuster, her great-grandfather, John McLane, was also governor; her father, Malcolm McLane, was mayor of Concord; and her mother, Susan McLane, was a Republican state legislator. And Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen's daughter, Stefany Shaheen, is on the Portsmouth City Council. Plus, it's not uncommon for members of different families to face off for the same seat.
"We have so many of them [political dynasties] they bump into each other sooner or later," said former New Hampshire attorney general and longtime political adviser Thomas Rath.
Having a politically familiar name has its benefits. For example, Judd Gregg said his status as his father's son increased his name ID in his first political run and boosted his candidacy. "Honestly, I don't think I probably would have been viable had it not been for my father's strong reputation and people taking a look at me because of that," Gregg said. "And that was a huge plus."