Latvala, Morgan now among possible candidates in Florida governor's race, so that's fun

click to enlarge John Morgan, a possible Dem contender for governor in 2018. - Screenshot,
John Morgan, a possible Dem contender for governor in 2018.

Here's hoping that voters haven't yet had their fill of politicians who shoot from the hip and are not concerned with maintaining the status quo. Not, like, in a incoherently-shouts-what-racist-people-think kind of way, but in a way that could actually be good for Florida in the long run after eight years of, well, Rick Scott.

There are at least two people considering running for governor in Florida that fit that description: Republican State Sen. from Clearwater Jack Latvala and Central Florida attorney John Morgan, who could run as a Democrat.

Latvala, who terms out of his seat in 2018, has recently been open about the fact that he's interested in running for governor. Though no one has announced a run yet, and probably won't officially do so for another year, the Republican field is has been taking shape since shortly after Scott's reelection in 2014. Ag Commissioner Adam Putnam and current State House Speaker Richard Corcoran are likely contenders. There have even been rumors that former Arkansas governor, perennial presidential contender and noted religious fanatic Mike Huckabee is thinking of running — he is a part-time Florida Man, after all.

Latvala is probably at an advantage because he's noted for his fundraising abilities and maverick ways. His centrist politics and frequent fearlessness when it comes to standing up to his own party and their corporate benefactors would set him up well in a general election, though a primary election may be tough, given how it's likely to be crowded and he's not always sided with Republicans, especially on environmental  and consumer issues.

But he's got something on his side the others really don't: he's funny and entertaining, and we don't mean that ironically, as we would were Huckabee the focus here. The party would just have to get over the having-a-mind-of-his-own thing.

Party dynamics may also play a role in the primary for Morgan should he run.

The Florida Democratic Party has new leadership, but it's unclear whether they'll follow the old and paternalistic practice of muscling the more interesting candidates out of primaries, thereby propelling human pairs of khaki pants that are exciting to no one into losing general races.

Unlike Democrats who typically run for governor, Morgan is a firebrand whom party elites probably see as unelectable because this one time he said a swearword! And someone recorded him saying a swearword And he supported (medical) marijuanas! Twice!  Therefore, the olds won't vote for him, so why bother?

But politics have changed and the old ways don't work anymore.

Spoiler: the olds who vote in off-year elections typically vote Republican anyway. And with the Orange One doing his thing, Dems have a freshly energized base they can work with, as long as they don't alienate the progressives with some uber-centrist they created in a lab somewhere.

If the party allows a primary, likely candidates include Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, former Congresswoman from Tallahassee Gwen Graham, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine.

Scroll to read more Columns articles


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.