Joe Henderson: Money no object in Jeff Greene's bid for Governor - Florida Politics

Joe Henderson: Money no object in Jeff Greene’s bid for Governor

It’s debatable if money can buy happiness, but there is anecdotal evidence that it can buy the keys to the Florida Governor’s mansion.

Rick Scott proved that by spending millions from his considerable personal bank account to win the Republican nomination in 2010, then the general election and finally a second term.

Now, Democrat Jeff Green says he is prepared to follow Scott’s script and spend, as he told the Miami Herald, “ … whatever it takes” to become Florida’s next Governor.

Not only that, Green told the newspaper he’s willing to lend a financial hand to other state Democratic candidates to flip the Legislature after 20 years of Republican rule.

Sure, he’s jumping into the race so late that most conventional candidates wouldn’t bother. The primary is only 2 ½ months away, and his rivals — Philip Levine, Gwen Graham, Andrew Gillum and Chris King — have been crisscrossing the state for months.

The electorate has reacted mostly with a yawn though, and Green told the Herald that’s why he decided to go all-in.

The leader is clearly Mr. Undecided. None of these candidates have really been able to inspire the voters,” Greene said.

Money can buy a lot of inspirational TV ads, and Greene is worth an estimated $4 billion.

He does bring a lot of baggage to the race, starting with the fact he once ran for Congress in Los Angeles as a Republican, but Charlie Crist used to be a Republican too and, well, things change.

Greene did make a mess of things the last time he ran for elected office though. That was an ill-fated 2010 U.S. Senate bid, which blew up following reports Greene was partying hard with people like Mike Tyson and Lindsay Lohan.

Do people even care about things like that any more (see Trump, Donald)?

I guess we’ll find out.

Besides, Greene says he strictly a family man, interested in education, and that all those party stories were exaggerated anyway.

“Here I am eight years later, and thank God I have three beautiful sons,” he told The Associated Press.

“When you have kids who are starting to grow, you start thinking about things like education and what kind of world they’re going to have.”

Well, OK.

In the past or not, that won’t stop rivals from bringing up the party stuff anyway if Greene starts to gain traction. It also could complicate a Democratic race that was increasingly beginning to take on a Levine-versus-Graham look.

Even if Greene’s bid is not successful, it could force the other Democrats to spend even more resources now instead of keeping some cash in the bank for the general election.

And that benefits … guess who?

Adam Putnam.

For as much bad press as Putnam has gotten lately, he has only one rival for the Republican nomination and Ron DeSantis, despite his regular appearances on Fox News and the endorsement from President Donald Trump, hasn’t made much headway.

Putnam has money. Name recognition.

And for now, at least, he seems to have withstood the twin haymakers from the Publix controversy and the bungled handling of concealed weapons permits by his office at the state Agriculture Department.

Even if Greene somehow wins the Democratic nomination, he would find Putnam (I’m assuming) to be a formidable opponent.

But hey, eight years ago I thought the idea of a businessman spending millions of his own dollars to win the Governor’s race was laughable.

No one is laughing anymore.

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.

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