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Amid buzz over governor's race, John Morgan says he's considering candidacy

@MichaelAuslen

Johnmorgan111416_8colThis week, Democrats have been talking about trial lawyer John Morgan launching a run for governor.

Today, the man himself weighed in: Morgan is thinking about it.

"It is either extremely flattering that so many people put such faith in me, or sad that people have so little faith in the typical politicians of both parties who are expected to seek the office," he wrote in a long post on Medium. "Before I go down this road any further I need a lot of time to think about it."

The post outlines a few core ideas of a Morgan candidacy, including promises to "largely self-fund any campaign" and that he would only serve one term as the state's chief executive. And he points out that he enjoys high name recognition as the man behind the "For the People" Morgan & Morgan ads all over the state.

Some controversial policy ideas are in the post, as well. After bankrolling the successful medical marijuana campaign this year, Morgan said he next wanted to decriminalize the drug statewide. A $15 minimum wage is not new to the Morgan political ideology either.

Morgan wants to immediately release from jail and prison anyone convicted of drug possession and automatically restore civil rights to non-violent felons who have finished their sentences. But he says that there are statewide elected positions with "no real need," like lieutenant governor and commissioner of agriculture.

The Medium post represents a change of heart for a man who told the Times/Herald earlier this year that he would not run for office. "I don't think I would even take the job," he said.

Still, it's not entirely surprising. The people who have publicly called on him to run for governor are close Morgan allies. Ben Pollara is the Miami political consultant who ran the medical marijuana campaigns in 2014 and 2016. Morgan hired former Gov. Charlie Crist and contributed to his congressional campaign.

A Morgan candidacy would be the first of many surprises ahead for the 2018 gubernatorial race, which is already picking up steam. Potential Democratic candidates include Congresswoman Gwen Graham, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. Republican Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is likely to run, and House Speaker-designate Richard Corcoran has made known his interest.

Photo: Cherie Diez, Tampa Bay Times

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