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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

For now, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn 'on the sidelines' in governor's race

26

November

Hillsborough Clerk of Court Pat Frank recently called to ask Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn if he would take part in a Tampa fundraiser last weekend for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist.

Thanks but no thanks, the Democratic mayor said, for reasons he described as more practical than political.

"I've got too much on my legislative agenda that I'm not getting involved at a minimum until after the session's done, if at all," Buckhorn said Tuesday.

If at all?

"I'm going to see how the race shapes up," said Buckhorn, who has expressed frustration that the Democratic bench is not deeper and that the party could end up with a candidate who is saying different things today than he said two years ago.

Besides, he said, "I've got a lot of stuff I've got to get done.”

That includes helping Tampa International Airport lobby the Legislature for about $300 million for a major expansion, trying to win legislative approval so big cities could hold their own sales tax referendums on rail and talking about rail alignments and other issues that would lead up to a future referendum on transit.

"I've got to work with the governor, the Republican Legislature," Buckhorn said. "That's what I was elected to do. The partisan stuff, there's a time and a place for it, but it's not now."

Buckhorn is certainly no partisan purist. in September, he raised some eyebrows when he joined the host committee for — but did not attend — a fundraiser for Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. (Bondi raised more eyebrows when her office asked Gov. Rick Scott to postpone an execution that was scheduled for the date of her fundraiser.)

At the time, the mayor said he is a "Tampanian first" a mayor second and then, "a long way" down the line, a partisan Democrat. So he supports people, like Bondi, who have supported his city.

As for the governor's race, Buckhorn said Tuesday, "I'll be on the sidelines for a while."

Buckhorn, 55, has been mentioned as a potential candidate for governor someday, but said he has no plans to do anything but run for re-election in 2015.

And after that?

"I don't spend any time thinking about it, largely for two reasons: I love what I do. I have too much fun doing what I do,” he said. “And two, if I don't do a good job here, it doesn't much matter. And so five years from now, I think the city and I will have a good body of work, a good story to tell. Would it provide me an opportunity to potentially look at a statewide race? Maybe. But I could just as easily go home."

[Last modified: Tuesday, November 26, 2013 5:02pm]

    

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