Where's the Democratic bench in Florida?
Bob Buckhorn, a perennial also-ran in Hillsborough County, was elected mayor of Tampa last night, and that's a big deal for Democrats in Florida. Buckhorn is a centrist DLC Democrat, savvy and very ambitious. It's probably absurd to think of him running for governor in three years, but as mayor of the biggest city in Florida biggest battleground region he is automatically a top tier member of the Democratic bench of potential statewide candidates.
What's remarkable after the GOP wave of 2010, how thin that bench is. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler are only Democrats left in a high profle executive office until Buckhorn takes office. Former state Sens. Dave Aronberg and Dan Gelber have left the public spotlight (though Gelber is working w FairDistricts, and outgoing Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio is about to leave.
There's chatter that Alex Sink is seriously considering challenging Rick Scott in 2014, as is state Sen. Jeremy Ring. Rod Smith insists he's not interested, and U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor and Debbie Wasserman Schultz seem pretty content in Washington.
Given the slim pickings in the Democratic party in Florida, Buckhorn actually looks like an emerging giant.