Thursday, August 16, 2018
Politics

Carlton: TMZing the future for Bondi, Buckhorn

To mark the end of this bizarrely improbable year, some not particularly fact-based but still possible political speculation:

Like TMZ salivating over what's next in the Brangelina breakup, practically everyone is talking about the political future of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

Bondi, who hails from Tampa, has not always appeared to enjoy her time in Tallahassee. She seems particularly sensitive to the fair-game criticism that comes with your standard rough-and-tumble politics.

When stories broke about Bondi having received a $25,000 campaign check from Donald Trump and her office opting not to investigate Trump University, she circled the wagons. Bondi also took her lumps for asking the governor to delay a killer's execution when it conflicted with her fundraiser, and for some offensive phrasing in legal papers against gay marriage.

She stumped for Trump. And with his triumph, she is on his transition team, even as she defers questions about her own possible future in Trump's White House. As the savvier speculation goes, she could be up for a job — and perhaps one that would not require a potentially bruising Senate confirmation hearing and all those pesky questions therein.

But might Bondi just be over it?

Before Tallahassee, she was a well-liked Hillsborough County prosecutor and also a face on cable news, commenting on legal issues of the day. She is telegenic and camera-comfortable. Couldn't she easily parlay her political celebrity into a job with, say, Fox News? And what a coup for Fox, netting the pal of a president who has called the media "scum."

Then again, maybe the glitz of a Trumpian gig is too much to resist.

• • •

Also up for speculation: What's next for Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn when he reluctantly term-limits out? Does he run for governor? He's not saying at the moment, but I'm going with no.

Smart money says he's too practical to take on fellow Democrat Gwen Graham, who comes armed with her iconic ex-governor dad, Bob Graham. Big -name lawyer John Morgan, the for-the-people guy, could be formidable, too.

• • •

Then there's the odd one about longtime Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan maybe running for Tampa mayor.

After all, the once-quiet Hagan has been front and center on the future of the Tampa Bay Rays here. Recently he was an unexpectedly empathetic voice for helping Tampa families stuck with houses tainted with toxic Chinese drywall, invoking the American Dream, saying, "Well, today, the system is righting this wrong."

While Hagan might be flirting with the idea of throwing his hat in with other rumored contenders — City Council members Yolie Capin, Harry Cohen, Frank Reddick and Mike Suarez, Commissioner Sandy Murman, former police Chief Jane Castor, architect Mickey Jacob and who knows who else by then — I say the Republican Hagan wisely decides no, since the city tends to elect Democrats.

Then again, you need only to look around the world at the moment to know that in politics, stranger things can happen.

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