Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush attended the 2012 Lincoln Center Institute Gala at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center on March 7, 2012 in New York City. Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images
(ABC News) -- Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush endorsed Mitt Romney after Romney's lopsided win in Illinois Tuesday night.
The former Florida Governor - a Republican heavyweight - called on members of the party to coalesce behind Romney.
"Congratulations to Governor Mitt Romney on his win last night and to all the candidates for a hard fought, thoughtful debate and primary season," said Bush in a statement.
"Primary elections have been held in thirty-four states, and now is the time for Republicans to unite behind Governor Romney and take our message of fiscal conservatism and job creation to all voters this fall. I am endorsing Mitt Romney for our Party's nomination. We face huge challenges, and we need a leader who understands the economy, recognizes more government regulation is not the answer, believes in entrepreneurial capitalism and works to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to succeed."
Bush, the brother of former President George W. Bush, is a much-respected voice in the party and was considered by some to be a leading contender for the nomination if he had d was courted by some conservatives as an alternative candidate. But he rejected calls for his candidacy. Romney also won the primary in Bush's home state of Florida.
His father, former President George H.W. Bush has also endorsed Romney.