Florida's Computer-Savvy Governor Wired and Ready

The Florida Times Union, June 21, 1999 | Go to article overview

Florida's Computer-Savvy Governor Wired and Ready


TALLAHASSEE -- Clear across the country, Gov. Jeb Bush is still wired to people in Florida.

A tech-savvy governor who spends 25 to 30 hours a week reading and sending e-mail, Bush has his laptop computer in place as he sits in an airport parking lot in California, waiting for his plane.

He spends the 20 minutes answering e-mails -- including one from The Associated Press about his cyberspace communications.

"I have received and sent over 100 messages today while traveling by car throughout Southern California," Bush writes.

That's typical for Bush, the son of a prolific letter-writer. Former President Bush was once given a letter-carrier's cap and bag by the postmaster general in tribute to the amount of the president's correspondence.

The younger Bush can e-mail on the road or in the air as easily as in the office or at home.

"I am on a plane flying back to Miami, drinking coffee, watching Shakespeare in Love (great flick) and responding to e-mail," Bush writes the next evening as the e-mail interview continues.

He estimates half the e-mails he reads come from citizens rather than staff or advisers.

Across the country, most governors -- or at least their offices -- have e-mail addresses. But not many use them to keep in touch with constituents. Bush's older brother, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, uses email to communicate with family, friends and his presidential campaign -- but not ordinary Texans.

Another famous governor -- Jesse Ventura of Minnesota -- gets 120 e-mails every day, spokeswoman Samantha Massaglia said. Ventura, however, doesn't open them. Staff members give hard copies or summaries to him.

Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, meanwhile, uses e-mail every day and even takes a cell phone and laptop on fishing trips.

"If the fish aren't biting, he will check his e-mail," spokesman Jim Harris said.

North Dakota Gov. Ed Schafer also uses e-mail a lot. "During the legislative session, I had some rolling dialogue going on with some teachers, about salaries and things," Schafer said. "I do communicate back and forth."

Florida's governor has three e-mail addresses. Mail sent to two of them goes directly to the guy at the top.

One address is the "jeb@jeb.org," an account Bush set up in 1997 during his second gubernatorial campaign. …

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