TALLAHASSEE — Republican Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson said Tuesday he plans to run for governor if Gov. Charlie Crist runs for the Senate.
Bronson told the Associated Press indications are getting stronger that Crist will run for the Senate seat that Republican Mel Martinez is leaving after one term.
"I have won two statewide elections fairly handily and I've been on the Florida Cabinet now for eight years, handling all the issues that the governor has to handle," Bronson said. "Should the governor go to the U.S. Senate, then I feel like I've got something to offer the state."
While it's widely speculated that Democratic Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum also will run for governor if Crist runs for Senate, Bronson is the first major politician to say he will seek the seat.
McCollum and Sink are raising money for re-election and they can transfer that to a gubernatorial account if donors don't object. Bronson said he won't open a campaign account until after Crist makes his decision, but he is beginning to make calls around the state to secure support for a governor's race.
Gov. Jeb Bush appointed Bronson as Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services commissioner in May 2001 to fill Bob Crawford's unexpired term. Bronson was then elected to the position in 2002 and 2006. He can't run for re-election because of term limits.
Bronson, 59, a rancher who was raised in Kissimmee, also served in the state Senate from 1994 to 2001.
Should Crist run for Senate and if Sink and McCollum run for governor, every statewide position on the ballot will be an open seat. Crist has said he won't announce his political plans until after the annual legislative session ends May 1.