Former Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford says he will decide whether to run for governor within 60 days.
"I think I have to make a decision in the next 45 days internally. Between now and the end of the year I need to decide," said Weatherford, who celebrated his 37th birthday by joining Democratic state Rep. Ed Narain of Tampa for a post-election wrap up with the Greater Tampa Area Chamber of Commerce. "Politically, the timing is really good. On a personal front, I have an 8-year-old, a 6-year-old, a 4-year-old, and a 2-year-old and a bunch of businesses that I'm involved in, so it's hard to know if now is the right time."
Weatherford, who did not vote for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton for president, said Republicans can't take anything for granted in 2018, when Agriculure Comissioner Adam Putnam currently looks like the Republican frontrunner for governor and Democratic prospects include Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, state Sen. Jeremy Ring, U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine.
"Bob Buckhorn's a great guy. I think he's done a tremendous job as mayor of Tampa. I'm a huge fan of his. I think he's a very viable candidate for governor, and you'll never hear me say a bad thing about him. I think Gwen Graham is a really good candidate," The Pasco County Republican said. "And so for myself and other Republicans from around the state of Florida, if they think we're just going to dance through 2018 and continue to control the governor's mansion, I don't believe that's the case. I think there are very sharp, sophisticated people that are going to run in Florida, and if it turns into a mandate on the Trump presidency...If he stumbles and it turns out to be a mandate on his presidency we could have some challenges."
A big reason why Republicans dominate in non-presidential election years, Weatherford acknowledged, is simply because the GOP outspends Democrats three-to-one, and turnout is low.
--ADAM C. SMITH, Tampa Bay Times