1. News
  2. /
  3. Florida Politics
  4. /
  5. The Buzz

Old feuds die hard: Bob Buckhorn and Bill Carlson trade barbs on Twitter and in the media

The latest chapter of a long running saga of mutual loathing surfaced Wednesday as Tampa’s former mayor and a current City Council member started jabbing on social media. Then they doubled down.
Former Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and current City Council member Bill Carlson renewed their mutual antipathy Wednesday. [Times| City of Tampa]
Published Aug. 22

TAMPA — If you thought it couldn’t get any worse after Bill Carlson referred to Bob Buckhorn as a brutal third-world dictator, then you weren’t following their Twitter feeds Wednesday.

Buckhorn had been using the social media platform to rag on Tampa Bay Water and St. Petersburg elected officials since the latest dust up at a Monday meeting of the regional water utility.

Never one to mince words, Buckhorn linked the Sunshine City’s opposition to Tampa’s plan to convert 50 million gallons of highly-treated sewage into something you can drink to a recent Tampa Bay Times’ story revealing how St. Petersburg has violated state standards for the quality of the wastewater it pumps into the aquifer.

Then Carlson decided to weigh in. The new City Council member is no fan of Tampa’s controversial plan. He’s said he won’t vote for a city budget that includes any funding for the proposal critics have dubbed “toilet-to-tap.”

So he responded to Buckhorn’s tweet with what amounted to a leg sweep.

When a Times reporter called both of them, well, it was on like Donkey Kong.

First, Buckhorn. The man who ran Tampa between 2011 and three months ago said he hadn’t seen Carlson’s tweet. When it was read to him, Buckhorn had plenty to say.

“I don’t pay attention to him and I don’t know anyone who does," said the mayor about his nemesis, who runs the Tucker Hall public relations agency in Tampa. He said that, in his opinion, Carlson “tends to peddle conspiracy theories.”

“Hopefully, now that he has good health care, maybe he can finally get some help,” the mayor quipped in a verbal equivalent to a hard jab to the ribs.

Carlson, informed of Buckhorn’s comments, said it was obvious to him that the mayor had become unhinged.

“He’s gone off the deep end because he realizes he’s irrelevant. He’s fighting for an audience that he obviously desperately needs,” Carlson said. “His whole administration’s brand was based on him, not on facts. The facts show he did a terrible job.”

Just in case you’re wondering, Buckhorn and Carlson are both Democrats.

Buckhorn was a popular mayor right up until he handed over the keys to the city to Jane Castor. On Wednesday, he appeared in good spirits. Before he left office, he told the Times he wouldn’t insert himself into Tampa politics in Castor’s first few months, but Wednesday evening he acknowledged that Twitter was a tempting arena for the political combat he never ran away from while in office.

Speaking of Castor, the current mayor didn’t respond to a request for comment made through a spokeswoman about how she felt about all the drama.


  1. Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos listens to a speaker share an opinion about a city matter during a city council meeting at Clearwater City Hall in Clearwater, Fla. on Thursday, April 20, 2017.  On Thursday, the Clearwater City Council rejected the mayor's resolution urging lawmakers to ban assault weapons.  [Times files] TIMES FILES  |  Tampa Bay Times
    However, the city did pass a resolution calling for more modest gun control measures.
  2. Maurice A. Ferré at his Miami home earlier this year. JOSE A. IGLESIAS  |  Miami Herald
    He served as mayor for 12 years and set the stage for Miami to become an international city.
  3. Rep. Susan Valdes, D-Tampa, during a Feb. 7, 2019, meeting of the House PreK-12 Appropriations subcommittee. [The Florida Channel]
    ‘One test should not determine the rest of your life,’ Rep. Susan Valdes says.
  4. Vice President Joe Biden, right, talks to supporters as former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, left, stands near during a campaign stop at at Century Village in Boca Raton, Fla., Monday, Oct. 13, 2014. Crist is locked in a tight race against Gov. Rick Scott in one of the most negative gubernatorial campaigns in Florida history. The two disagree on most major issues, including health care, the minimum wage, Cuba policy, gay marriage and medical marijuana. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz) ORG XMIT: FLAD102 ALAN DIAZ  |  AP
    The Florida Republican-turned-Democrat said Biden’s ‘record of getting things done speaks for itself.’
  5. FILE - In this June 20, 2018 photo, immigrant children walk in a line outside the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children a former Job Corps site that now houses them in Homestead, Fla.  Migrant children who were separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border last year suffered post-traumatic stress and other serious mental health problems, according to a government watchdog report obtained by The Associated Press Wednesday. The chaotic reunification process only added to their trauma. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File) BRYNN ANDERSON  |  AP
    Since Homestead’s closing on Aug. 3, at least $33,120,000 has been paid to Caliburn, the company contracted by the government to run Homestead.
  6. The economies of Canada and Florida go together like, well, palm fronds and maple leaves, as seen outside the Sweetwater RV Resort in Zephyrhills. (Times file photo) KATE CALDWELL  |  Tampa Bay Times
    To qualify under the proposed Canadian Snowbirds Act, visitors would have to be older than 50 and would have to own or rent a home here.
  7. The Florida House Education Committee focuses on early education in its first meeting of the 2020 session. The Florida Channel
    School security and early learning get top billing in the first committee meetings of the looming 2020 session.
  8. Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran speaks to an unidentified man outside of Tampa Bay Academy Monday, April 15, 2019 in Tampa. CHRIS URSO  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Richard Corcoran has convinced the State Board of Education to sign off on a new funding formula for the 28-college system, which, with more than 320,000 students, is widely viewed as one of the...
  9. Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Miami while visiting Ball & Chain in Little Havana for a meet-and-greet with Hispanic voters on Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019. [CARL JUSTE CJUSTE | Miami Herald]
    While candidates vie for votes in Iowa, New Hampshire and other early primary states, the struggle in Florida six months from the primary election is about big money.
  10. A view of the I-275 northbound Sunpass lane at the Skyway Bridge. VRAGOVIC, WILL  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The lost money is from unpaid tolls stemming from problems with the vendor Conduent State & Local Solutions.