Is Bob Buckhorn a credible gubernatorial candidate for 2014? Yes, but…

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Is Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn a credible gubernatorial candidate for 2014? The answer is “Yes, but…”

Yes, the affable Buckhorn is a credible candidate because he is making the trains run on time in Tampa. This is not much more than what Pam Iorio did for eight years before him, but Buckhorn does his job with a certain flair — and more bluster — that Iorio never displayed.

Buckhorn is a credible candidate because he’s the kind of New Democrat that voters like. It’s the Clinton model. It’s the Democratic Leadership Council model. It’s big city progressiveness meets triangulating pragmatism. You’re right the New Democrats aren’t so new anymore, but that doesn’t mean the formula still doesn’t work.

Buckhorn is a credible candidate because, well, he is fun. He gets it. He created Foursquare Day. He lighted the downtown bridges. He paints the Hillsborough River green for St. Patrick’s Day. The guy can’t go a week without coming up with some sort of innovative idea.

Buckhorn is a credible candidate because he presided over the Republican National Convention AND NO ONE BLEW UP! Apparently, no one blowing up was the standard for success set for the 2012 RNC, so, by that measure, Buckhorn can claim victory. (Kinda like how Mitt Romney can tout his leadership of the 2002 Winter Olympics?)

Buckhorn is a credible candidate for many other reasons, not least of which he is just an incredibly talented leader and retail politician.And he would be a dramatic improvement over the current occupant of the governor’s mansion, but…


There are two reasons why I believe Buckhorn will not run in 2014.

The first is that he just won the mayorship. Remember, Buckhorn, having lost a previous mayoral race and a bid for the County Commission to Brian Blair (eww), was in the wilderness for quite some time. He’s only a year into his first term. Buckhorn’s not up for re-election until 2015, meaning he could be in office until 2019.

I highly doubt that Buckhorn, after working almost all of his political life to be mayor of the city he loves, would give up the job for a difficult race for governor.

Second, and more important, there is another reason why Buckhorn won’t run for governor in 2014. Actually, it’s two more reasons.

Grace and Colleen Buckhorn, Bob’s two young daughters.

Almost every politician talks about wanting to spend more time with their family, but Bob Buckhorn is that rare husband and father who accomplishes that goal.

Dare I say that, as an expectant father, it’s in this area of life that Buckhorn is a true role model for me.

In fact, I had to cut-and-saved a recent tweet that Buckhorn sent out two weekends ago. Buckhorn tweeted:

@BobBuckhorn: Proud to welcome the President to Tampa Bay today. My daughters have a swim meet today so I will be poolside instead. I think he understands.

Does that sound like a guy who wants to move his family to Tallahassee?

Absolutely not.

But it sure does sound like one helluva dad.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.