Former House Speaker Will Weatherford won't run for governor in 2018

Ex-House Speaker Will Weatherford says his family is his focus.

TALLAHASSEE — Will Weatherford won't run for governor in 2018, the former Florida House speaker said Thursday.

"Running for governor is a pretty big commitment, and it's something that is certainly of interest," he told the Times/Herald. "My focus right now, which I'm really enjoying, has been growing a business with my partners who are my brothers and being there for my four young children."

Weatherford, a 37-year-old Republican from Wesley Chapel, isn't ruling out a run in the future. His children are all young — 8, 6, 4 and 2 years old — and he said he has years ahead of him to return to politics.

"While I'm compelled at some point to re-engage in the political arena, I just think the timing right now is not right," he said.

Weatherford served in the Florida House from 2006 to 2014, the final two years as speaker. Along with two of his brothers, he now runs Weatherford Partners, a venture capital and consulting firm in Tampa.

During the presidential campaign, Weatherford was highly critical of then-candidate Donald Trump (whom he did not vote for) and the vitriol in this year's election. He told the Times/Herald in May that Trump winning would change the political tone in the country to be more negative.

Weatherford said Thursday that Trump did not play a factor in his decision not to run in 2018.

"For the Republican Party itself and our state, it's kind of the high-water mark," Weatherford said. "It's a great time to run."

The gubernatorial election is still almost two years away, but already a field of possible candidates is starting to form.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has raised millions of dollars for his political committee and is seen as a front-runner in the race. Several other Republicans could announce runs, as well, including House Speaker Richard Corcoran of Land O'Lakes, Senate budget chairman Jack Latvala of Clearwater and former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker.

Among Democrats, U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee and Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan have floated the possibility of running. Three mayors are also considered potential candidates: Bob Buckhorn of Tampa, Philip Levine of Miami Beach and Andrew Gillum of Tallahassee.

Times political editor Adam C. Smith contributed to this report. Contact Michael Auslen at [email protected]

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