Mayor Bob Buckhorn addressed around 100 members of the Capital City Tiger Bay Club in Tallahassee early on Friday afternoon, where the Tampa Bay pol told a North Florida crowd of his mayoral, ideology-free vision for the state as a whole.
The visit stoked speculation back home that the mayor — who was re-elected virtually without opposition earlier this year — is looking at a run for governor in 2018.
To the chagrin of the political juice-hungry crowd at CTB, he addressed that question only lightly.
“I don’t really know the answer to that,” Buckhorn told reporters. “I’m going to spend the next year figuring out whether I work, whether the message works and whether my family and I want to do it so that when that day comes and I do have to make that decision, I’ll have done the due diligence to be ready.”
“I could just as easily go home,” when his second term as head of Tampa’s strong mayor system is up in 2018, Buckhorn said.
While that question isn’t likely to go away anytime soon — Gov. Rick Scott addressed the same group shortly after filing paperwork to run for governor in 2010 — Buckhorn also addressed a menagerie of topics and questions over the course of about an hour at the lectern.
Partisan rancor in the 2014 election, sustainability, the scourge of sex trafficking, and whether national leaders should be more like their municipal brethren were among the issues discussed.
“I am convinced that mayors should rule the world,” Buckhorn intoned with a smile, though he seemed mostly serious.
Buckhorn portrayed his personal story as one that was uniquely Tampian and Floridian, tracing his path from an abortive bid to be a naval fighter pilot in Pensacola to the house of his former Penn State fraternity brother in Tampa, to the office of former Mayor Sandy Friedman, the City Council and eventually to his successful long-shot bid to become Tampa’s chief executive, defeating former four-term Mayor Dick Greco and — in a cycle dominated by conservative ascendency — Republican Rose Ferlita on his way to a convincing 63-37 run-off election victory.