Buckhorn backs Sink as better Democratic candidate than Crist

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, left, says, “I’m frustrated that our bench is not deeper than it is.” He says Rick Scott is vulnerable.

EVE EDELHEIT | Times (2012)

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, left, says, “I’m frustrated that our bench is not deeper than it is.” He says Rick Scott is vulnerable.

It may not be especially surprising that Democrats who have run for governor unsuccessfully — Alex Sink, Jim Davis, Rod Smith — are among the most unenthusiastic about the prospect of Charlie Crist as the Democratic nominee in 2014.

They are lifelong, loyal Democrats who obviously viewed themselves as strong governor material, and it has to sting to see so much buzz about a former Republican being perhaps the Democrats' best hope to take on Gov. Rick Scott next year.

And at least one likely future gubernatorial candidate — Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn — feels the same way.

"I'm frustrated that our bench is not deeper than it is, the fact that we could conceivably wind up with a candidate who one or two years ago was saying something entirely different than where he is today," Buckhorn, who has rejected entreaties to run in 2014, said in a Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9.

Buckhorn said he hopes Sink runs again and that she would be a stronger nominee than Crist.

"Clearly Rick Scott is vulnerable. I wish we had a pro-business Democrat, a centrist, because I think that person could win," Buckhorn said.

Political Connections airs at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Living in their districts

A review of Florida's 160 lawmakers by the state's Secretary of State has determined that all of them are registered to vote in the district for which they were elected to represent. While that may not sound like news, doubts about where lawmakers live have been raised this summer, prompting Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford to order a review of their voter registrations.

On Friday, Maria Matthews, director of the Division of Elections, sent a letter to Gaetz and Weatherford stating that, as of Aug. 29, not one lawmaker is registered in the wrong district.

Gaetz and Weatherford have also asked the general counsels of each chamber to recommend standards that will be used to determine if lawmakers are breaking the law.

The issue has come up chiefly because of Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, who contends that Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, doesn't have a primary address in her Senate district.

For Latvala, the voter registrations don't prove anything. "The first problem is that lawmakers were elected in November of last year," Latvala said. "Sachs wasn't registered in her district until two days after Election Day. Plus, I could change my voter registration to say I live in Timbuktu, but that doesn't mean I live there."

Votes with a view

St. Petersburg voters last week voted by a nearly 2-to-1 ratio to kill plans to move ahead with the Lens design to replace the old Pier. But get this: Among the small handful of precincts that voted in favor of the Lens were the two downtown precincts dominated by condo high-rises along Beach Drive. In other words, among the biggest chunk of St. Petersburg voters who would be looking at the Lens day and night from their living rooms, 55 percent wanted the project to go forward.

Biden to speak at UCF

Vice President Joe Biden will deliver a speech on college affordability at the University of Central Florida on Sept. 5.

Friends with funds

Former state Senate President Mike Haridopolos is breaking out the checkbook.

This year he has used the campaign committee from his failed U.S. Senate bid to donate to Gov. Scott, Sen. Marco Rubio and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, FEC reports show.

Haridopolos gave $35,000 to Scott's Let's Get to Work fund; $5,000 to Rubio's Reclaim America PAC; and $2,500 to Christie's re-election effort. He also gave money to Florida Rep. Ted Yoho. One of his biggest donations, in May, was $25,000 to American Action Network, a Republican group that is trying to sell immigration reform to conservatives.

Haridopolos, now a Tallahassee lobbyist, still has $1.3 million in the Friends of Mike H account, records show.

Less-known keynoters

Florida may be the ultimate battleground state, but in off-years both parties often struggle to find A-list politicos to headline their big political galas. This year is no exception.

On Oct. 4 the Florida GOP holds its "Statesman's Dinner," at Disney's Contemporary Resort. Tickets start at $125 ($10,000 gets a couple of VIP tickets including photo opportunities) and proceeds go to the party. The keynote speaker: former U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao (wife of U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell).

The Florida Democratic Party holds its 2013 state conference at Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Resort Oct. 25-27. Tickets to the Saturday dinner start at $175. The keynote speaker? Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, who lost his re-election bid in 2010 to John Kasich.

Michael Van Sickler and Steve Bousquet contributed to this week's Buzz. Adam Smith can be reached at asmith@tampabay.com.

Winner of the week

Rick Kriseman. Once widely dismissed as a barely viable mayoral candidate, the former state representative finished just behind incumbent St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster in the primary last week and looks poised to give Foster a serious challenge. What did Foster decide to do after 60 percent of the city voted for someone else? Take a few days off and relax.

Loser of the week

Marco Rubio. Who'da thunk the once-golden child of the GOP would come to his home state and find a bunch of conservative activists no longer all that thrilled with him. Immigration reform has hurt him. Feeding the sense that he no longer feels confident in his political footing, the normally hawkish Rubio last week released a vague and mushy statement about Syria.

Buckhorn backs Sink as better Democratic candidate than Crist 08/31/13 [Last modified: Saturday, August 31, 2013 8:02pm]

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