Bob Buckhorn Archives - Page 4 of 43 - SaintPetersBlog

Kathy Castor fears how NIH budget cuts will affect USF, Moffitt Cancer Center

President Donald Trump’s proposed federal budget cuts funding calls for a sharp increase in defense spending while making significant cuts to a variety of domestic programs.

When asked Monday what might be the worst part of the plan in her eyes, Congresswoman Kathy Castor said it might just be the proposed $5.8 billion reductions in funding to the National Institutes of Health (18 percent of its total budget). Most of the NIH’s budget goes to funding research in health care in universities across the country.

“It’s hard to pick out the worst part,” the Tampa Democrat replied when asked what concerns her most about the preliminary budget, which is expected to be revised when after the Congress gets involved.

“For this community, I would hate to see us take a step backward at Moffitt Cancer Center and USF on medical research, because they’re finding the treatments and cures for the future,” she said.

A trickle-down effect of reduced NIH funding, Castor added, would mean the exodus of “a lot of brilliant young people” who work at those institutions.

The proposed Trump budget would also cut the Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent.

“Add in the devastating cuts to the EPA at the time where we’re trying to protect the health of Tampa Bay after St. Petersburg had some very serious issues with service overflow,” she said.

“This is a community that relies on clean water and clean beaches as the backbone of our economy,” Castor said, “and you begin to eliminate the commitment of the government to keep our air and water clean, that will only hurt jobs and the economy around here.”

During the transition period, Democrats in Florida and around the nation said that they could work with the new president on an infrastructure spending bill.

“If there ever were an opportunity for us to potentially find common ground with the new president, it would be over infrastructure,” Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said a few days before Trump was inaugurated in January. “Because for us, infrastructure is the lifeblood of what we do. We can’t grow this country’s economy, I can’t grow this city’s economy without adequate roads, bridges water and sewage systems.”

However, the Trump budget proposal unveiled last week includes a plan to eliminate a $500-million-a-year program that helps rural communities build and improve water, sewer, trash and street drainage systems. It also cuts a $500-million-a-year program that was created in the federal stimulus package of 2009 to finance a broad range of projects, from replacing bridges to building car lanes. And it would also cut funding for new rail or bus lines.

“I’m very disappointed,” Castor said about the lack of infrastructure spending in the proposed plan. “We have huge needs here in the Tampa Bay area.”

“Here’s a president who talks one thing — ‘oh, we’re going to have a huge rebuilding plan in America,’ and then the first budget comes out, and there’s nothing there. So his rhetoric is not matching what he promised,” she said.

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney admitted last week that the preliminary budget might appear to contradict Trump’s statements as a candidate and as president

Mulvaney said the White House is targeting “inefficient programs” and will shift funds into “more efficient infrastructure programs later on.”

Tampa City Councilmembers ponder their own political future — now that Bob Buckhorn has decided his

Tampa City Council Chair Mike Suarez says Bob Buckhorn‘s decision to opt out of a statewide run in 2018 should mean a lot less drama associated with the election for council chair next month, a development he says “is a good thing.”

There was plenty of such drama surrounding the election of a council in 2015 and 2016, due to the uncertainty around Buckhorn’s political ambitions.

But his announcement that he will forgo a run for governor and instead fulfill the last two years as Mayor of Tampa rejiggers the political calculus among some of the councilmembers who may be considering a run themselves for mayor in 2019. That’s because if Buckhorn had decided to run, it would mean that he would have likely relinquished his office well before his term was up. And under the city charter, if there are fewer than 15 months remaining in the mayor’s term, the current chairman serves as mayor.

That was a fact overshadowing last year’s council chair election, as well as the rumors that were floating that the mayor was ready to exit City Hall and work in a Hillary Clinton administration.

“I mean, obviously if the president asks you, you would consider,” Buckhorn said in the days immediately preceding last year’s council chair vote.

That possibility led to an excruciating contest for council chair between Suarez and incumbent Frank Reddick that ultimately took the council 14 ballots before choosing Suarez to lead them.

That was the same meeting where Reddick alleged that Vincent Gericitano, the president of the Tampa Police Benevolent Association, made a throat-slashing gesture to Councilwoman Lisa Montelione, an indication, Reddick charged, that he was warning her not to vote for him for chairman. Ultimately, the Tampa Police Department Internal Affairs Department cleared Gericitano of that charge.

“It’s been a great honor and privilege to serve as chair of council the last year,” Suarez told SPB earlier this week. “I’ve enjoyed it, and I’m very appreciative that I’ve had the chance to serve in this role.”

The thought that Buckhorn might have to leave his seat early also was an issue in 2015. Months before Buckhorn was re-elected that year, he opened up his own political action fundraising committee, considered a first step toward a potential statewide run.

That year’s council chair election resulted in then incumbent Charlie Miranda losing out to Reddick, after having served the previous four years. Miranda tells SPB he has no interest in serving as chair this year.

“I’m happy with what I’m doing now. More time for life,” he says. And if his colleagues nominated for the position? “No, I would tell them, thank you very much, but I pass,” he says.

Reddick seems a bit ambivalent about becoming chair again. He says if his colleagues were to “honor” him by nominating him, “I would not turn them down.”

On the other hand, “it doesn’t give you any special privileges,” he says. “It’s more of a ceremonial type of event, and that’s it, but if your colleagues recognize you for that leadership role, then you have to feel honored and appreciate it.”

Yolie Capin currently chairs the monthly Community Redevelopment Agency meetings. She says the fact that Buckhorn isn’t going anywhere is going to take “a lot of stress off of everyone for those that were vying for that seat,” and says she is now interested in the chairman position.

On the current council, Suarez, Reddick and Capin’s names have all been floated as potential mayoral candidates in 2019 (Harry Cohen‘s has as well, but there is now more speculation that he will run to succeed his friend Pat Frank as Clerk of the Hillsborough Courts in 2020).

Reddick says flatly he has no interest in running for mayor, but is very interested in staying in public service, saying that a run for county commission or the state legislature is something he’s thinking about.

And Capin?

“As far as the Mayor’s race, I think I am leaving my options open,” she emailed SPB earlier this week. “Everyone knows I can definitely run a campaign.”

Suarez appears to be primed for a run for mayor, if a speech he recently gave to the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee is any indication. Other names being bandied about in town to run in 2019 include former Police Chief Jane Castor, architect Mickey Jacobs, businessman Topher Morrison, County Commissioners Sandy Murman and Ken Hagan.

Former state representative Ed Narain told this reporter several weeks ago that several people have called to ask about his interest, but he says that’s not something he’s actively pursuing at this time.

Then again, the election is two years away, meaning there’s plenty of time for him or others to think about running for the office.

Bob Buckhorn calls Donald Trump’s proposed budget ‘reckless’ for American cities

Add Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn to the list of Democrats taking issue with President Donald Trump’s proposed federal budget.

“President Trump’s proposed budget is not only unrealistic it’s reckless for America’s cities,” Buckhorn says in a statement issued Thursday afternoon. “As someone who campaigned on investing in infrastructure, this proposed budget does just the opposite. Not only does it make no mention of tax-exempt bonds and local deductibility for cities, it guts funding for housing programs and cuts and sometimes eliminates funds for infrastructure and transit needed for America’s cities to thrive.”

Buckhorn noted that Tampa was “a city whose Riverwalk was partially funded by Tiger Grants, whose Encore housing was developed with Choice Neighborhood grants, and who relies on the National Endowment of the Arts grants to beautify neighborhoods and create cultural experiences.”

On Thursday, the U.S. Conference of Mayors said the proposal would “severely hurt” many residents in cities of all sizes, towns, and suburban and rural areas.

In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio said his city would suffer huge cuts to a wide array of services and capital funding, jeopardizing everything from housing inspections and senior services to transit projects and counterterrorism efforts under Trump’s budget.

In San Francisco, Mayor Ed Lee said he was “deeply troubled” by the Trump budget, asking Congress to “fight against a budget that does not support American families.”

Dana Young to Bob Buckhorn: You should support next generation utility legislation

Bob Buckhorn and Dana Young are waging a war of words over newly filed legislation allowing wireless equipment in public rights of way.

Tampa’s Democratic mayor argues the measure removes local control of public spaces.

No, says the South Tampa Republican senator, Buckhorn is completely off-base with his concerns on what the bill will actually do.

In a recent op-ed for the Tampa Bay Times, Buckhorn made his case: “Telecommunications companies are pushing SB 596 and HB 687, legislation that would allow them to place small refrigerator-sized equipment, and even towering poles, on public rights of way. If passed, local governments would have no control over where this communications equipment would be placed or how it would look.”

“This idea tramples on the authority of the very local officials you entrusted to make decisions about how your community, and all others in Florida, look and feel,” he wrote.

The bill, called the “Advanced Wireless Infrastructure Deployment Act,” is being sponsored in the Senate by Palm Coast Republican Travis Hutson, chair of the Regulated Industries Committee.

The Act would prohibit the Department of Transportation and individual local governments from prohibiting, regulating or charging for placing small wireless facilities in rights of way. It also says that local governments can’t require applicants to perform services unrelated to the approval that’s being sought, like reserving fiber or pole space for the governmental agency. It also says that local governments can’t ask the applicant to “provide more information to obtain a permit than is required of electric service providers and other communications service providers that are not wireless providers.

“When public officials consider where structures may be located, they evaluate many factors, including a community’s character, the safe installation of such facilities, and the cost to the taxpayers,” Buckhorn writes in the column. “The proposed legislation directly negates this by allowing telecom companies to construct equipment with no concern about how they affect our neighborhoods, public safety, or local budgets.”

Buckhorn adds that the legislation also “diminishes communities,” and would “interfere with a community’s ability to maintain its unique character, and would hand the telecom companies license to create permanent eyesores.”

But Young says that the legislation only addressing wireless equipment that would be installed in “existing right-of-ways where utility infrastructure exists today.”

“The bill does nothing to change a local government’s ability to preserve historic areas like our own Ybor City, nor does it affect the power of cities and counties to regulate siting of new infrastructure and equipment as they do now,” Young tells

“This bill originated because once providers began to upgrade to 5G infrastructure some local governments put in place a moratorium to actually block innovation. If the mayors of our cities and towns want to stay on the edge of innovation and for their constituents to have access to the highest speed wireless services they will support this bill,” Young says in a statement. “This bill will bring our state into the next generation of wireless technology with many applications. To do this we must be flexible so Tampa can stay on the cutting edge of technology.”

Sponsoring the bill in the House is Lake Wales Republican Mike LaRosa; it was heard Wednesday in the Energy & Utilities Subcommittee Wednesday.

The measure also has the backing of telecommunications giant AT&T, among other pro-business groups.

In a statement, the Associated Industries of Florida calls it “good public policy,” saying it “will spur increased investments in the state, attracting innovative and technologically advanced companies to Florida.”

Overall crime rate in Tampa is down 9% from a year ago, police say

Nearly every year since 2003, Tampa Police have championed a drop in the crime rate from the previous year, commensurate with a nationwide reduction in crime.

That trend continued Monday, with the Tampa Police Department reporting that violent crime was down 16.5 percent in Tampa in 2016 compared to 2015.

Property crime was also down 6.8 percent over the same time period.

“It’s a team effort,” said Mayor Bob Buckhorn at a news conference at TPD’s downtown headquarters. “It’s not just the men and women of the Tampa Police Dept. It’s not just how we deploy, it’s not just how we use data to analyze crime, it’s not we track it, it’s not necessarily how we equip our officers … this police department is as progressive and as data driven as any department in the country.”

Buckhorn singled out the city’s ‘Stay & Play’ program, launched in 2015 after a series of shooting deaths in poor neighborhoods as a stabilizing factor in reducing crime.

Stay & Play is a summer program at recreation centers and city pools around Tampa.

“Over 100,000 kids have taken advantage of Stay & Play,” he said. “That means that they are now in a safe environment when they used to be in the streets. They are now under the guidance of our Parks and Recreation employees and coaches and mentors, and they are not out there being seduced by the gangs, with potentially being either victims or perpetrators.”

Chief Eric Ward chose to site the reduction crime to 2011, the year that Buckhorn was first elected mayor. From 2011-2016, crime has gone down 24 percent in Tampa.

“That doesn’t happen overnight,” Ward said. “It takes a lot of work, and contributing factors are all the men and women from TPD and our community coming together to work to solve this issue.”

Property crime was up 6 percent in the city’s SoHo District, a statistic that officials say is about the number of people who park in the entertainment district and leave their doors unlocked, allowing for easier access for criminals to steal.

Property crime was up by 1 percent in the Sulphur Springs area.

In Ybor City, violent crime was down 14.6 percent, and property crime an astounding 44 percent. There were 62 fewer property crimes in Ybor in 2016 from 2016.

“We know we have the attention of the police force, and we’re willing to form partnerships as well,” said Courtney Orr, manager of the Ybor City Development Corporation. That includes the “Coffee with a Cop” program the TPD introduced last year in Ybor City.

Femi Kennedy, the property manager of the Jackson Heights apartment complex, praised the relationship he has with members of the TPD, saying that he has “probably 15 or 16 officers phone numbers in my cellphone that I can pick up at any time and call them and a get a response.”

“We’ve gone from a crime infested, violent fueled community to one where kids are outside playing … and people feel they can sleep better at night,” said Kennedy. “Simple things like that go a very, very long way.”


Tampa a ‘final four’ city to host National Gay & Lesbian Chamber Convention

Tampa is one of the final four cities in the running to host the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Convention this summer.

Last week, a team of NGLCC officials visited Tampa to evaluate the location for the gathering scheduled for Aug. 7-10, 2018.

Visit Tampa Bay and the Tampa Bay Diversity Chamber of Commerce have joined forces to attract the conference to Tampa — competing against Austin, Texas; Philadelphia and New Orleans. The chosen city could see an economic impact of more than $2.1 million, with bookings for approximately 2,450 hotel rooms, including another 700 on the peak night.

If Tampa does make the final cut, local leaders say it would represent a significant nod toward Tampa’s thriving economy, inclusive policies, and regional support of LGBTQA issues. Both Tampa Mayor Bob Bckhorn and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, along with Visit Tampa Bay, have welcomed and supported the selection of the city as a host of the 2018 conference.

Nick Janovsky, a Board Member of the Tampa Bay Diversity Chamber — the local chapter of the NGLCC — says Tampa hosting the convention would cap off series of successful scholarship programs and a record year for the annual Diamonds in Diversity gala, which honors local political and business leaders.

 “We at the Tampa Bay Diversity Chamber of Commerce are proud of our members and their companies for embracing diversity as a strength and the impact their small, medium and large companies are having to make our region a thriving economic hub — attracting a talented workforce,” Janovsky said in an email. “We applaud Mayor Buckhorn and Mayor Kriseman for their support and are confident Tampa is the best city in the country to host the 2018 NGLCC Convention.”

Visit Tampa Bay president and CEO Santiago Corrada says hosting this event will “elevate the entire Tampa Bay community in the eyes of the world as a major LGBTQ destination capable of putting on a significant, high-quality national event.”

Ashley Brundage, President of the Tampa Bay Diversity Chamber added that the national conference “will put Tampa Bay on the Map with LGBTQ Conventions and the more than 200 major corporate partners of the NGLCC.”

Ashley, along with her wife Whitney, will serve as co-chair for local efforts in the event should Tampa be selected.

For more than 30 years, the Tampa Bay Diversity Chamber has provided an environment for business owners and local organizations to “build an alternative community based on shared goals, friendship, and trust.”

More information about the Tampa Bay Diversity Chamber is at

Bob Buckhorn says after Donald Trump, voters may not be interested in a ‘guy like him’

On Thursday, Bob Buckhorn explained why he chose not to pursue the Democratic nomination for Florida governor in 2018.

The Tampa mayor’s decision was mainly predicated on two factors: He did not want to be away as his 15-year-old daughter spends her last few years at home, and he loves being Mayor of Tampa more than he could imagine running for statewide office for the next 18 months.

But lurking below that was a realization; if he ran, Florida voters may not be interested in buying what he would be selling next year.

“I would have been running on the fact that I was qualified, that I had managed large institutions, that we had a track record of accomplishments, that we were not particularly partisan, but I don’t know if that really matters anymore,” the mayor told reporters gathered at City Hall Thursday morning.

“I don’t know what the American public is looking for in their elected leadership. It is a disconcerting time in our country, and for those of us who aspire to lead, it’s the most unusual time that I’ve seen in 30 years.”

Of course, Buckhorn was referring to the electoral earthquake leading to Donald Trump winning the presidency last fall over Hillary Clinton, the woman he campaigned hard for both in and outside Florida.

Although the mayor’s decision was expected, over the past few years, his trajectory about being a candidate had evolved.

Based on his successful leadership leading Tampa out of the Great Recession in the last decade — as well as his outsized personality — Buckhorn was a prominent part of the Democratic bench of candidates for statewide office, and had been for several years.

That speculation went into overdrive after he created his own political action committee (One Florida) in December 2014.

And while he won a huge re-election victory in 2015, the rest of the year was troubled, partly due to a negative newspaper report about the Tampa Police Department, which triggered the progressive activist community, demanding the city create a citizen’s review board. It was a proposal Buckhorn initially resisted.

As funding for his PAC began to dry up in 2016, Buckhorn’s gubernatorial aspirations resurfaced locally after he gave a fiery speech this summer to the Florida delegation at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Buckhorn admitted Thursday his thinking about a run for governor “ebbed and flowed” over the past couple of years, something he said was probably the case with all the rumored candidates, except for Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, “who has obviously been committed to this from day one.”

“For me this was not an easy choice,” Buckhorn said. “It was not a straight path. There were a lot of things that I have to deal with that a lot of the other candidates don’t.” He specifically mentioned his two teenage daughters and a full-time job as mayor in the Florida’s biggest media market.

“But at the end of the day, family being first, I just didn’t want the job as bad as I wanted to be the mayor,” he said. “And even though I recognize that two years from now I won’t be the mayor, I’m going to finish strong.”

Buckhorn has more than two years left on the job, which is why he was hardly in the mood to get too retrospective about his legacy. While he championed his role in leading what he called “the Tampa Renaissance,” he drew a blank when asked to acknowledge his greatest failing to date, saying only that whatever mistakes he’s made along the way were “not done with malice or ill intent.”

Buckhorn certainly has the ambition to be governor, and he believes it’s vital for a “regime change” in Tallahassee after two decades of Republican rule in both the Governor’s mansion and the state Legislature.

Speculation has been that while a run for governor wasn’t in the cards, Buckhorn could run for chief financial officer, a job with duties that would allow him more time to return to Tampa on a weekly basis. But he said that decision was always about whether to commit for a run for the top spot in state government, not another Cabinet position. That said, he won’t pursue a run for that office.

A disciple of the 1980s Democratic Leadership Council — the same one that spawned Bill Clinton — Buckhorn’s centrism was always an issue for progressives in Tampa and the state.

With other centrist Democrats like Alex Sink, Patrick Murphy and Charlie Crist losing statewide elections in recent years, there is a part of the party that wants to go further left in 2018.

Buckhorn acknowledges that is a fervent part of the base right now, but he insists that’s not the way to go.

“If we continue to run campaigns based on identity politics or cobbling together interest groups, we’re going to lose,” he said flatly. “We’re a Purple state, and my sense is, and I could be wrong, and certainly the party seems to be heading in a different direction than my governing style, is that if we can’t appeal to the middle, we’re never going to be successful in this state.”

The mayor’s most interested in seeing how other Democrats in the race will fare over the course of the next year and a half. He said that the success of Trump does pave a possible path for attorney and Democratic fundraiser John Morgan as a viable wild card in 2018.

“He could potentially be the Democrats Donald Trump in terms of style and his willingness to shake up political and conventional wisdom, ” Buckhorn mused. “I just don’t know what the voters are looking for. I always thought that experience matters, and that credibility matters, and competence matters and a proven track record matters, but I just don’t know anymore.

“Time will tell, as the country rights itself, if a style of a Donald Trump is what Americans are looking for. If that’s the case, a guy like me, you know, they’re not going to be interested.”

Joe Henderson: Bob Buckhorn made the right call not to run for Governor

Bob Buckhorn is a gregarious, ambitious and determined man, and I think he would have made a fine governor for the state of Florida. He certainly ranks among the best mayors the city of Tampa has ever had.

But I also believe he made the right call when he announced in an email to supporters Thursday morning that “I am not planning to be a candidate for Governor in 2018.”

Now, saying “I am not planning …” does leave a little wiggle room in case Democrats come storming to his door, but that is not likely to happen. There could be several viable options for Dems in 2018, including Orlando attorney John Morgan, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham.

But Buckhorn wasn’t kidding in that email when he said, “I have a job I love.” In his case, that was not the usual politician-speak for “I’ve sized up the field and decided I have no chance.”

Tampa has had some fine mayors dating back more than 40 years — people like Dick Greco, Bill Poe, Sandy Freedman, Bob Martinez, Pam Iorio — and none of them wanted the job more than Buckhorn. He loved saying that Tampa had its “swagger” back. Trust me on this; no one has more swagger than he does.

And Buckhorn came along at the right time, too. When he assumed office in 2011, the city’s knees were buckling from the Great Recession (Iorio deserves credit for how she guided Tampa during that time). But Buckhorn moved ahead with an ambitious plan to reshape downtown from a dead place where the streets didn’t wait until 5 p.m. to roll up.

There are so many things going on now that the biggest downtown problem is a lack of parking.

That’s not to say the mayor hasn’t had issues. Not everyone approved of the military-style security Buckhorn championed that turned downtown into a fenced-off encampment during the 2012 Republican National Convention. And when Buckhorn decides he wants something, he tends to bulldoze any opposition that raises a peep of protest.

He didn’t make a lot of friends in the African-American community, either, when a Tampa Bay Times report about the disproportionate number of black bicyclists stopped by local police led to a U.S. Department of Justice investigation. Buckhorn defiantly supported the police on that issue.

When you’re in a job like this one, though, you’ll be judged on your overall score. On his watch, the long process of building Tampa’s Riverwalk finally went from concept to reality. It already is the signature landmark in the city.

He streamlined much of the bureaucracy on things like the permitting process. That helped speed his vision for transforming downtown into an urban dwelling center rather than just a place where people went to work.

He once famously quipped that infrastructure was the most important thing for city mayors, so while things like new firehouses and stormwater drainage improvements didn’t make headlines, those projects did make life better for citizens. He has been a champion for public spaces, and the Water Works park on the north side of downtown is a jewel.

He was an out-front supporter of Hillary Clinton for president, so there was speculation that he would have been off to Washington had she won. We’ll never know that for sure, just as we’ll never know if as governor he could have successfully worked with what likely will remain a Republican legislative majority in Tallahassee.

Here is what we can say, though. This decision not to run clears a lot of things off his plate and allows him to concentrate on the city he loves. I would imagine development on the west side of the Hillsborough River will be one of his priorities in the two years he has left in office.

And barring something unforeseen that can’t be controlled, he will hand the next mayor a city that has changed for the better. Not a bad legacy, eh?

The political class react to Bob Buckhorn’s decision not to run for Governor

Bob Buckhorn’s decision not to run for Governor is eliciting plenty of reaction in Tampa. Many people say they are not surprised Buckhorn has chosen not to pursue a path to the top political job in Florida.

“Am I the only one who felt he wasn’t heading in that direction?” asked City Councilwoman Yolie Capin.

“I truly believe that he made the right decision because he has not demonstrated over the past six months that he had a keen interest in running for governor,” said Councilman Frank Reddick.

Alluding to the fact that he has done little over the past year to travel around the state to get to know Democrats like potential candidates Gwen Graham and Philip Levine, Reddick said: “I think his chances of winning would have been very, very slim. So I think he did the right thing to wait this out.”

“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,” the Mayor said in his statement issued out shortly after 5 a.m. Thursday. “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.”

“Although I’m not surprised, I’m a little sad that we won’t have a representative from Tampa running for Governor,” said Councilman Mike Suarez. “I would have loved to have seen him go out and talk about the vision that he’s been able to put together in Tampa for the rest of the state.”

“I think that Mayor Buckhorn should be commended for putting the interests of his family and the City of Tampa first,” said Councilman Harry Cohen. “Being Mayor is more than a full-time job, and the continued success of much of what is happening in Tampa right now depends on having a strong and totally focused Mayor.”

“Bob Buckhorn is an extraordinary leader who has transformed one of Florida’s and America’s great cities,” Graham said in a statement. “His successful service in Tampa shows what Florida can accomplish if we work together and focus on creating economic opportunity and improving the quality of life for families.

“As a Tampa native, I’m incredibly thankful for his vision and leadership,” says Democratic operative Ana Cruz, a close Buckhorn ally.

A former official with the Florida Democratic Party, Cruz appeared wistful that Buckhorn will not be making a run for governor next year.

“Mayor Buckhorn has transformed our city, led with integrity and is exactly what we need in Tallahassee,” she said. “Bob Buckhorn will always be my favorite pick for Governor.”

“He would have been a strong candidate and a great governor, but can’t blame my friend Bob for putting his family and Tampa first,” said St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman.
“The withdrawal of Bob Buckhorn leaves the democrats without a critical I-4  corridor candiates who has won an election,” said St. Petersburg political strategist Barry Edwards. “The I-4 cooridor is critical to the success of a democratic nominee in a general elction and this further errodes democrats pathways back to power.”

“His legacy will be that of a truly great man who loved Tampa and elevated our city to the national stage,” said Tampa state Senate Republican Dana Young. “Although he will not run for Governor, Bob Buckhorn is not going away by any stretch — except him to be a major player for years to come.”

Reddick said the same thing about the mayor, who will turn 59 in July.

“He’s still a young man, and he got a great future ahead of him if the timing is right for him, and that could be in another four years.”

The mayor himself had a news conference later on Thursday morning, which you can read all about here.

Email Insights: Adam Putnam political committee brings in more than $2M in February

The political committee backing Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam says it raised more than $2 million in February, bring total contributions to more than $9 million.

In an email  to supporters from Justin Hollis, the chairman of Florida Grown, said the committee raised more than $2.25 million in February 2017. Hollis said that one-month fundraising haul brought total contributions to the committee, which is expected to fuel Putnam’s 2018 campaign, to more than $9.4 million.

“Support for Adam’s Florida Grown PC is not only evident through fundraising, however, it’s also seen on social media platforms,” wrote Hollis. “More than 170,000 people follow Adam on Facebook, while Phil Levine has just 44,000, Bob Buckhorn has just 17,000, Gwen Graham has just 13,000 followers and the newly announced gubernatorial candidate from the Capital City Andrew Gillum has just under 17,000.”

Gillum formally announced his 2018 bid Wednesday; while Levine and Graham have both indicated they are mulling a bid. Buckhorn is also believed to be considering a run.

Putnam is expected to run in 2018. House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Sen. Jack Latvala are believed to be considering a run.

Hollis went on to say that behind the scenes, the Florida Grown team is “working hard, traveling the state and building relationships.”

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