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.






Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum: ‘I’m running for governor’

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum made if official today, announcing on social media and in a YouTube video that he’s seeking the 2018 Democratic nomination for governor.


Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in his video announcing his 2018 Democratic bid for governor.
Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in his video announcing his 2018 Democratic bid for governor.

“I’m running for Governor of Florida. I hope that you will join me on this journey,” Gillum posted on Facebook this morning with a link to his video, which stresses his upbringing as the son of a municipal bus driver.


Other Democrats considering the race include former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and millionaire trial lawyer and medical marijuana advocate John Morgan.


Click here for a 2016 article on Graham, Buckhorn and Levine doing some early 2018 campaigning at the Democratic National Convention.


Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is likely to seek the Republican nomination, and House Speaker Richard Corcoran of Land-o-Lakes is another potential GOP candidate.



Dem convention a 2018 governor’s race preview for Buckhorn, Graham, Levine?

Potential 2018 Democratic candidates for governor (from top) Bob Buckhorn, Gwen Graham and Philip Levine on the floor at the Democratic National Convention last week.
Potential 2018 Democratic candidates for governor (from top) Bob Buckhorn, Gwen Graham and Philip Levine on the floor at the Democratic National Convention last week.

PHILADELPHIA — Like every speaker who addressed Florida Democratic National Convention delegates at daily breakfasts here last week, U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, D-Tallahassee, urged the partisans to work hard to elect Hillary Clinton and defeat Donald Trump in November.


“And in two years,” Graham added, “we’ll have the opportunity to take back the governor’s mansion.”


Graham was one of three Dems mentioned as potential 2018 gubernatorial candidates — Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine were the others — who kept a high profile among Florida delegates at the convention.


A week earlier at the Republican convention in Cleveland, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam sponsored a breakfast for delegates, furthering the widespread expectation that he’ll be a candidate to replace term-limited Gov. Rick Scott in 2018.


Click here to get an early preview of the 2018 governor’s race at MyPalmBeachPost.com