Buckhorn out of governor’s race; many potential Dems remain

Actual or potential 2018 Democratic candidates for Florida governor. Top row, from left: Andrew Gillum, Chris King, Gwen Graham. Bottom row: Philip Levine, John Morgan, Jeff Greene.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn announced this morning he’s not running for governor in 2018 — removing one Democratic name that had drawn much speculation over the past year.

 

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn

“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,” Buckhorn said in a Facebook post.

 

“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,” Buckhorn added.

 

It could still be a crowded race for the Democratic nomination next year to succeed Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who faces term limits.

 

(The GOP field appears to be smaller. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is expected to run; House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land-O’-Lakes, is also getting a lot of mention. Keep in mind, however, that Scott didn’t launch his 2010 candidacy until April of that year.)

 

Here’s a look at other Democrats who have opened campaigns or are being mentioned as potential 2018 candidates:

 

• Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum announced his candidacy last week. Gillum, 37, was elected to the Tallahassee city council in 2003, won the mayor’s job in 2013 and spoke at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. He’s the only African-American in the race.

 

• Central Florida businessman Chris King also opened a campaign last week. He is president and CEO of Elevation Financial Group LLC, which specializes in real estate development, property management and renovation.

 

• Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham has made no secret of her interest in the job, which her father, Bob Graham, held from 1979-87. Gwen Graham has appeal as a Democrat who can win votes beyond the party’s liberal base; she unseated a Republican incumbent in a Republican-leaning North Florida congressional district in the very Republican year of 2014. But a court-ordered redistricting effectively drew her out of the seat in 2016, so she opted not to seek re-election.

 

• Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine is actively exploring a run. He announced in January that he won’t seek re-election in Miami Beach this year and will be “exploring ways of how best to serve both my community and my state.”  An entrepreneur who started businesses in the cruise and media industries, he first ran for office in 2013 and frames his mayoral record as one of advancing progressive issues but also “getting things done.”

 

• Trial lawyer John Morgan has said he’s considering the race. A major Democratic donor whose Morgan & Morgan law firm advertises heavily around the state, Morgan was a key backer of the medical marijuana amendment approved by Florida voters in November. His ability to self-finance means he doesn’t face the time pressures other candidates are under to make a decision.

 

• Billionaire Palm Beach developer Jeff Greene has also been mentioned and recently told the Tampa Bay Times he’s not ruling out a run for governor. Greene couldn’t be reached this morning. He spent more than $23 million of his own money on a 2010 Senate bid, losing in the Democratic primary to former U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek.

 

 

 

 

 

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