Bob Buckhorn’s only opponent dropping out of the race before it begins?

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She’s had the audacity to do what no one else in Tampa has been willing to do  — challenge Bob Buckhorn in his bid for re-election next March.

But Becky Rubright now says it’s doubtful she’ll be a candidate for mayor, because she’s not sure she’ll be able to generate enough signatures on her petition to qualify for the ballot by the end of the year.

Although the deadline to submit the 3,472 or so signatures required to run for mayor isn’t due until January 2, Rubright says she only has around 1,000 collected right now, and thinks it’s pretty much a lost cause at this point.

“To try to gather 3,000 signatures in literally the next three weeks is practically impossible,” she says, giving herself a shorter deadline due to the approaching Christmas holidays.

“I honestly didn’t think it would be that hard to get the petitions,” she told SaintPetersBlog on Friday afternoon, attributing the difficulty she’s had in part to not getting help from some friends who said they would be able to assist in collecting signatures from the one percent of city residents, as required by election law in Tampa. But then in the next sentence she said she didn’t want to throw any of those allies under the proverbial bus, acknowledging that “everyone’s got their lives” and that such an effort hasn’t been a priority with those who said it would be.

“Sometimes you just have to look at the numbers and go: this is not doable, you know, so that’s where we are, unfortunately.”

Rubright could still get on next year’s ballot by paying the qualifying fee, but says that’s a formidable task, as that fee is $9,000. That’s calculated by requiring mayoral candidates to pay what amounts to six percent of what the office of mayor currently pays. City Council candidates, on the other hand, have it easier. With a $40,000 salary, aspiring office-holders for that office need to pay just $2,415 to qualify to get on the ballot.

With Rubright’s’  likely departure from the race, Buckhorn is staring at the possibility of running without an opponent for the March 3, 2015, primary election. The mayor has already raised over $100,000 for a campaign, and has stated that he has looked forward to running on his record.

Even if another candidate surfaces in the next month, they will he heavy underdogs against the 55-year-old Democrat, though Rubright insists that in her brief time in the spotlight she’s heard plenty of dissenting voices.

“One of the things that was most surprising about the whole thing is that for a man who’s got a very high approval rating, I meet lots of people who – people just came out of the woodwork who just do not like him,” she says, and specifically mentions the West Tampa community as an area of unhappiness. There have been some rumblings there regarding the InVision plan, which is the mayor’s concept to transform the west bank of the Hillsborough River into a mixed-use community that will include the demolition of two venerable public housing buildings, North Boulevard Homes and Mary McLeod Bethune High Rise Apartments, and the relocation of those residents.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.