Carlton: Forget politics — we've got a mayor-governor bromance going here!

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn greets Florida Gov. Rick Scott before a March 2017 roundtable discussion with Tampa community leaders and business owners. [Times files (2017)]
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn greets Florida Gov. Rick Scott before a March 2017 roundtable discussion with Tampa community leaders and business owners. [Times files (2017)]
Published July 11, 2018

There's a difference between Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

And no, I don't mean the fact that Buckhorn is a Democrat who stuffed envelopes in the fourth grade for Robert Kennedy and later stumped for both Bill and Hillary.

And that Scott is a Republican to the very marrow of his bones.

In fact, in this hyperpolarized time, much has been made of the mayor and the governor's so-called bromance.

In the spirit of tabloid couples Brangelina, Billary and Kimye, you could almost call it … BuckScott. RickHorn?

But seriously. Some Democrats are not amused, muttering that this mayor seems a little too eager to shake the hand of a guy on the other side and to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with him at news conferences.

And, lately, to eagerly accept bling for our area from the Republican governor who just happens to be in a fierce fight to oust Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson from Washington.

Here's Scott helping pump life into Tampa's historic street car system that could turn it into actual, practical transportation by making it free to ride. And helping get an Ybor City census tract on the list for a new federal tax break that could help score a new Rays ballpark.

And breaking big news about a private bid to build a high-speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando, with the process opening for more bids.

Which is where one interesting difference between the two politicians comes in.

Seven years ago when Scott first became governor, he promptly turned up his nose at big federal funding for that exact same high-speed rail route along treacherous Interstate 4 — a loud and resounding no-thanks to then-President Barack Obama, a Democrat. Scott claimed this could cost taxpayers a billion bucks, later ruled false by PolitiFact.

Now the governor can correctly point out we're talking private, not public, money. But the fact remains that we could have been years ahead on transit by now.

Last year, traffic-choked I-4 was rated the most dangerous highway in America by GPS tracking company Teletrac Navman.

Refuse help to make the region better?

Not Buckhorn.

Always at the ready with the sound bite, he recently said it's a mayor's job to work with anyone, "Democratic, Republican or vegan." It's not a new drumbeat. When the Republican National Convention was about to land in Tampa in 2012, Buckhorn was all-in for what he called a potential turning point for the city, "an economic development opportunity" that trumped politics.

So does this recent largesse from the governor render the mayor mute in the pending and rather important U.S. Senate race?

Nope. The mayor recently said he has supported the sitting senator, who has been a friend to Tampa in Washington, in every race Nelson's ever run, including this one.

Hey, I get standing by your party. Right now both sides would probably tell you it's more important than it's ever been.

But it's hard to argue against a politician bent on making things better regardless of, well, politics.