Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn says he won’t run for governor

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A political bombshell in Tampa this morning as Democratic Mayor Bob Buckhorn announced he will not be running for Governor in 2018.

He essentially gave three reasons why.  First, he doesn’t want to miss milestones in his family life.  He has two daughter, ages 11 and 15.

Secondly, he doesn’t want to be governor as badly enough as he wants to be mayor.

And third?  He believes his style of politics may not resonate with what the voters want.

“I will not be a candidate for governor in 2018,” the mayor said to a room full of media Thursday morning.  “I think I could have competed and I think I could have governed.”

Bob Buckhorn has been a face of politics for nearly three decades here in Tampa. His political career began we he started working on other peoples’ campaigns, he moved on to the city council, and he is now serving as mayor.

He’s proud of his accomplishments including helping the city move forward after the recession of 2011. He says he loved Tampanians and their “swagger.”

But when it comes to running for Governor, Buckhorn says he’s talked with leaders across the state and believes Florida is in dire need of a change in leadership after 20 years of Republican governors.

“”I think the fact that one party has controlled Tallahassee for 20 years does not bode well for the future of the state,” Buckhorn said.

But Buckhorn will not be spearheading that change. “I would have been running on the fact that I was qualified,” Buckhorn told News Channel 8.

“I think the fact that one party has controlled Tallahassee for 20 years does not bode well for the future of the state.”

He says he looks forward to the Democrats fielding a competitive candidate.

He went on to say there may be future political opportunities for him but if his decision not to run closes the door, he’s perfectly fine with that.

He plans on finishing out his second term as Mayor in April of 2019.

When asked who he would like to see in the Governor’s mansion next, he wouldn’t say anyone in particular but emphatically said the state is in need of a regime change.

With Buckhorn now out of the running, that, of course, leaves room for other potential candidates like personal injury lawyer John Morgan.

It also takes a Bay area candidate out of the race along the Interstate 4 corridor where elections can be won or lost.

“The democrats should be shaking in their boots and maybe they need a hail Mary and maybe that hail Mary is John Morgan,” political analyst Barry Edwards told News Channel 8.

But is Buckhorn’s announcement part of another political move?


“I’ve talked to some of his friends this morning,” said political observer William March.  “They say this is a strategic pull-back on his part and yes, they do expect him to be back.”

“I’ve had a great run of it here. Hopefully will go down as a mayor who had a small part in transforming this city,” Buckhorn said as he looks forward to ending his second term in April of next year.

The only official candidate who has thrown his hat in the ring right now is Tallahassee Democratic Mayor Andrew Gillum.  Other potential democrats include Representative Gwen Graham and John Morgan.

As for Republicans, there’s Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam, Clearwate Senator Jack Latvala, and House Speaker Richard Corcoran.

Below is the complete text of Buckhorn’s announcement:

“I can not tell you how honored I have been by the hundreds of people who have encouraged me to run for Governor. Your kind words and offers of support inspired me throughout this process and I am forever grateful for your willingness to join me on this journey.

That being said, I am not planning to be a candidate for Governor in 2018. While I absolutely believe that the State of Florida needs a course correction and a new direction, the timing for me and my family would be a challenge. As the father of two daughters who are 15 and 11, the all consuming task of running for Governor would cause me to miss the milestones in their lives that I could never get back.

Furthermore, I have a job that I love. A job unlike many jobs in politics requires that I show up and do what I was hired to do. As the CEO of 4400 great city employees, we are focused on furthering the amazing transformation of Tampa that has occurred over the last 6 years. It is a job that I trained for, aspired to and am eternally grateful to the citizens of Tampa who gave me this opportunity.

For me, finishing Tampa’s next chapter is more important than starting mine. Absent extenuating circumstances, I intend to finish the job I was hired to do and prepare Tampa for the great things that are about to occur.

I am confident that there will be a number of good candidates on the Democratic side that can speak to the hopes and aspirations of our fellow Floridians. This is a pivotal election for our state and I stand ready to lend my voice to those who would articulate a message that would unite us as a state behind a common vision that ensures that we leave Florida to our children, not a state of diminished possibilities, but a state of unlimited opportunities.”

                                                                                             -Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn


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