Preparing to welcome RNC, Tampa Democratic Mayor Bob Buckhorn says business trumps politics
One month to go, and the Democratic mayor of Tampa can't wait to welcome the Republicans to his town.
Make no mistake: Mayor Bob Buckhorn's partisan credentials are in order.
In the fourth grade, he stuffed envelopes for Robert Kennedy's 1968 presidential campaign. As a City Council member, he ran then-President Bill Clinton's re-election campaign in Hillsborough County. This year, he is a vocal supporter of President Barack Obama.
But when it comes to hosting the Republican National Convention, Buckhorn says business trumps politics.
"For me, this is an economic development opportunity," says Buckhorn, who turns 54 Sunday. "There's a time and a place for partisan politics. Right now my entire focus is on running this event and making sure it's successful both for the Republican Party and the city of Tampa."
The stakes are high not only for Tampa (pop 336,000), but for the 2.8 million residents of the Tampa Bay area, where a backlog of more than 15,000 homes in various stages of foreclosure weighs down the local economy. If the bay area sparkles and conventioneers go home happy, local officials hope for a boost to tourism, growth and corporate relocations.
"A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Buckhorn says. "I think when we look back 20 years from now, this will be a turning point in our development. We got to tell our story to the entire world."
Story here. (Photo by Times photographer Daniel Wallace of Buckhorn with President Obama in Tampa last month.)