Andrew Gillum – Page 7 – Florida Politics

Chris King releases new digital ad, ‘Being Bold’

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King is releasing a digital ad Wednesday that offers a broad, introductory look at his life, career, and positions on issues ranging from affordable housing to guns, and health care to criminal justice reform.

“I am the outsider with new ideas and fresh vision who is willing to display the political courage that this state needs to get things done,” King concludes in his remarks.

The two-minute, 23-second video, “Being Bold,” is being released on the internet and through social media backed by a six-figure buy, the campaign states.

The ad restates some of the positions King has cited in his first two statewide television commercials, including his pledges to take no money from the sugar industry and to “stand up to the NRA.”

The spot includes video from his campaign kickoff 15 months ago, to his April Democratic debate performance, to his criminal justice reform tour last month.

King is up against former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene in the August 28 Democratic primary to run for governor. The leading Republicans are Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

Gwen Graham would seek Constitutional amendment if needed to expand Medicaid

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham pledged Tuesday to do whatever is possible to expand Medicaid in Florida including getting behind a Constitutional amendment drive if she, as governor, cannot convince the Florida Legislature to accept the federal program.

Graham met Tuesday with a roundtable of health care leaders at the Florida Hospital Association offices in Florida, hearing tales of woe and frustration about the lack of coverage available to too many Floridians and how stretched services are to serve uninsured patients.

Most in the room appeared to support the Democrats’ desire to accept the Medicaid expansion program offered by the federal government under the Affordable Care Act, and Graham laid out several strategies she said she would pursue as governor, including, as a last resort, putting it on the statewide ballot.

“My commitment is to take Medicaid expansion. We’re going to get it done, even if we have to have a Constitutional amendment, I will spearhead a Constitutional amendment,” Graham told the gathering, which included former House Democratic Leader Mark Pafford and state Rep. Amy Mercado of Orlando.

Graham spoke of seeing first-hand, when she volunteered as a worker at a Shepherd’s Hope clinic in Longwood last year as part of her WorkDays program, how difficult it is for many Floridians to obtain health care. Shepherd’s Hope was represented at the table, along with representatives of Orlando’s major hospital systems, leaders of other clinics, and representatives of various health care and mental health associations.

They spoke to Graham of a situation that not only is difficult for the 800,000 uninsured Floridians and many others with too-limited coverage, but also difficult for the hospitals. On top of that is the new population of Puerto Ricans who came to Florida after Hurricane Maria destroyed their homes and livelihoods. Many are having to go back to the island for health care, because they can afford it in Puerto Rico, but not in Florida, said Milton Vazquez civic engagement program director for the Hispanic Federation of Orlando.

“It’s not letting up,” Jean Zambrano, vice president of clinical operations at Shepherd’s Hope, said of the needs.

Candice Crawford, president of the Mental Health Alliance of Central Florida, spoke of a “man-made disaster that we are not prepared for,” while talking about the mental health and addiction treatment services that have been cut this year in the Florida Department of Corrections budget. “They’re going to be sending people back out in the community that have had no treatment. They are sick, and they need help.

“We’ve got a problem. We have over 66,000 people in this state that have serious mental illness, and have zero mental health services,” Crawford added.

Others spoke of struggles with Florida’s opioid crisis; hospitals’ emergency rooms dealing with patients seeking primary care; under-reimbursements to hospitals; frustrations with getting coverage for telemedicine programs; the lack of available medical specialists, particularly psychiatrists; and expanding the scopes of practice for nurse practitioners and physician assistants, for which Martha DeCastro, the Florida Hospital Association‘s vice president for nursing and clinical care policy, declared, “Florida really is at the bottom of the heap.”

“This is just the beginning of this conversation. I look around this table and I know we’re going to have a lot of time together, because we have a lot of serious issues on how we get Florida to where the state needs to be,” Graham said.

Andrew Gillum touts endorsement from California Congressman Ro Khanna

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum announced Monday he has received the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna, a Democrat with a reputation as a strong progressive from the Silicon Valley area of California.

Khanna came out with the endorsement in a tweet posted Monday morning on Twitter.

“Proud to endorse @AndrewGillum for Governor of Florida. He’s an unapologetic progressive! He wants to give every teacher a pay raise, legalize marijuana, have corporations pay tax on overseas earning, and pass common sense gun laws. He represents the next gen of Dem leaders,” Khanna stated.

Gillum is in a Democratic primary battle that just got more complicated Monday with the entry of Palm Beach billionaire real estate investor Jeff Greene. Already in the race are former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, and Winter Park entrepreneur Chris King.

“I am exceedingly proud to have the endorsement of Congressman Ro Khanna,” Gillum responded in a news release issued by his campaign. He’s a progressive champion across a whole range of issues, and he’s leading the fight for an internet Bill of Rights. Congressman Khanna knows we can’t win in November by running away from our values, and we’re ready to bring it home this fall.”

Jeff Greene enters Governor’s race

Palm Beach billionaire real estate investor Jeff Greene has made it official, filing to enter the Florida governor’s race as a Democrat.

As first reported in Sunburn, Greene, 63, filed his paperwork to open a campaign account late Friday, and the Florida Division of Elections posted it Monday morning.

He has not yet made a formal announcement of his candidacy.

A one-time Republican who once ran for Congress in California as a Republican, Greene also is a former 2010 Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate.

In 2010 his campaign took some flack aimed at his Palm Beach partier image, with reports then of drunken and drug-fueled parties of celebrities and prostitutes aboard his yacht. In the 2010 Democratic primary Greene took 31 percent to Kendrick Meek’s 58 percent.

He also has taken heat lately for his vocal support of his Palm Beach neighbor, President Donald Trump.

In an interview with Forbes, Greene said he supported Hillary Clinton in the election but urged Democrats to get behind Trump “and not think about voting him out of office,” noting his non-political background may give him an opportunity “to look at everything with fresh eyes.”

But Greene criticized Trump for allowing “previously intolerable rhetoric to become tolerable,” pointing to campaign statements about keeping Muslims out of the country and identifying Mexicans as “rapists.”

“He opened the door to bigoted and racist behavior,” Greene told Forbes. “I hope he is going to pivot away from that rhetoric.”

Greene enters a field that so far has not sorted itself out, with former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine leading, in most polls, a pack that includes former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and Winter Park entrepreneur Chris King.

Forbes Magazine lists Greene as the 186th richest American, estimating his net worth at $3.8 billion.

In April he told the Palm Beach Post that he was ready to spend his own money, “whatever it would take,” to win.

He attempted that in 2010, when his campaign spent $23.8 million, and he provided $23.5 million of that in direct donations, and another $250,000 in loans from himself to his campaign. The campaign raised just $4,000 from outside his bank accounts.

Greene also has founded a private school, The Greene School, in West Palm Beach.

Gillum was the first to welcome Greene to the contest.

“I welcome Jeff Greene to this race to become Florida’s next governor,” Gillum said in a written statement. “As the son of a construction worker and bus driver, and still the only non-millionaire Democrat in our primary, I believe Florida Democrats need a true champion for working people as their nominee. I look forward to continuing this contest of ideas with Jeff in the field.”

Greene may not be the only late-arriving candidate in the Democratic primary for governor, with former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, who represented a congressional seat in Martin, St. Lucie and Palm Beach counties, also contemplating a bid.

Murphy said he is exploring a campaign that would include former U.S. Rep. David Jolly, a Pinellas County Republican, as his running mate.

Candidates for governor, Cabinet seats and legislative offices will formally qualify for the 2018 ballot from June 18 to June 22.


The News Service of Florida contributed to this post. 

Gwen Graham set to hit TV in Orlando, Tampa Wednesday

Gwen Graham plans to go up with her first TV commercials Wednesday in the Orlando and Tampa markets.

Her campaign announced Monday morning it is spending more than $1 million on its initial TV buy in the two I-4 corridor markets.

Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine has been blanketing television statewide since January. Winter Park entrepreneur Chris King began his TV advertising in mid- May. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum does not yet have any official TV commercials out, but he’s been supported by a TV campaign from the Collective Super PAC.

And now Palm Beach billionaire real estate investor Jeff Greene has entered the field.

On the Republican side, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam also has had commercials out for a couple of months, while U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis has had almost daily appearances on FOX News.

The Graham campaign did not give explicit details about the first ad, saying it would be revealed later this week.

“After 20 years of one-party Republican rule, Floridians are ready for new leadership,” Graham Campaign Manager Julia Woodward stated in a news release. “We’re excited to share our positive message with even more Democrats across the I-4 corridor.”

Graham raised more than any of her primary opponents in April and is beginning her paid communications strategy with more cash on hand than any other Democrat in the race, the campaign noted in the news release.

Philip Levine raises $1.3 million in May, matches it with his own money

Philip Levine continues to set the fundraising pace for Democrats running for governor, raising $1.3 million in May and matching that with another $1.3 million of his own money, his campaign announced Monday.

With that $2.6 million haul, Levine’s official campaign and his independent political committee All About Florida combined now have brought in more than $15 million so far, far ahead of his rivals for the August 28 Democratic primary, his campaign stated.

The others, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and Winter Park entrepreneur Chris King have not yet announced any May fundraising numbers, and their reports will not post until next week. And word early Monday indicated Palm Beach businessman Jeff Greene, perhaps the only prospective candidate who can spend more of his own money than Levine, is entering the field.

Levine, the former Miami Beach mayor, also has been burning through money far faster than any of his rivals, having spent more than $10 million through the end of April, mostly on television commercials. The spending has boosted Levine to the top of the polls, and the campaign still is expressing excitement about a survey last week that showed him with a 10-point lead over Graham, who has not yet begun any television advertising.

On the Republican side, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has raised far more money to date. He too has been spending heavily on television in the past two months, while U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis has been relying on almost daily appearances on FOX News.

“With primary ballots being mailed in 50 days, Philip Levine is bringing together supporters and donors from all parts of Florida who are ready to break the cycle of Republican control in Tallahassee. Our campaign is building a formidable lead in support, fundraising, and grassroots energy, ” Levine senior adviser Christian Ulvert stated in a news release. “This strong showing of support confirms yet again that our campaign has the backing, momentum, and message to win in August and November, and elect a Democratic candidate to the Governor’s Office for the first time in twenty years.”

Chris King proposes bullet tax for school violence prevention program

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King is proposing a tax on  bullets to help fund new anti-gun violence and safety programs in Florida schools.

The plan, rolled out Friday at a town hall meeting in St. Petersburg, calls for dedicating existing sales tax revenue on firearms and ammunition sales to a special fund, and then adding an additional tax of 6 percent on the sale of ammunition, which he calls a “safety fee.”

The revenue from those plus some of the money he expects to free up or generate through some other parts of the criminal justice reform plan he unveiled in May would fund gun violence prevention and intervention programs, school safety measures, and other related measures.

King’s calling the plan his “Every Kid Fund” for gun violence prevention.

Some of the money also would be reserved for gun violence safety studies and to reimburse trauma centers for medical costs of treating victims of mass shootings.

Law enforcement and other key groups would be exempted from the bullets tax.

“I’m proposing the ‘Every Kid Fund’ for Gun Violence Prevention because every child deserves to grow up in a state free from the scourge of gun violence, whether it’s everyday gun violence or mass shootings,” King stated in a news release issued by his campaign. “We should be investing in new and innovative ways to keep Floridians safe and that’s why I’ll bring my bold, progressive policy to Tallahassee and send ‘proud NRA sellouts’ like Adam Putnam packing.”

King hopes to face Putnam, or U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, the two leading Republican gubernatorial candidates, in November. First he must win the August 28 Democratic primary against former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. He trails them all in most polls.

He’s counting on this and other his proposals, such as his criminal justice reform package, which included legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana, and ending the death penalty, to begin to set him apart, and on his newly-begun TV commercials, to raise his name recognition from single-digits in polls.

Earlier this week he rolled out his second TV commercial, focusing on the mass shootings at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub and Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, attacking Republican Gov. Rick Scott, and stating his case to ban assault weapons

Philip Levine out with schools and teachers commercial

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine is turning his focus to schools and teachers in his new television commercial being launched statewide Friday.

The 30-second spot, “Class is In” includes Levine’s platform pledges of increasing teachers’ salaries by $10,000, increasing funding for schools, and stopping state tests. His campaign is putting $1 million behind airing the ad.

The commercial begins with Levine visiting a classroom and saying that there is nothing more than teaching that the teacher would rather do. “But Florida politicians care so little about her and other teachers, they’re now among the worst-paid in the nation, as our public schools are left begging for funds.

“I’m running for governor to stop the testing and start investing,” he adds.

Levine faces former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and Winter Park entrepreneur Chris King in the August 28 Democratic primary for the governor’s race. The leading Republicans are Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

“Everywhere I go in our state, I hear from Floridians about how our public schools are underfunded, and our teachers are underpaid and under-appreciated,” Levine stated in a news release issued by his campaign. “If we want to build a 21st century economy in Florida, it starts by upping our game and rising to meet our responsibility to ensure that Florida’s public education system is the best in the nation. As Florida’s next governor, we’re going to stop testing and start investing, with pay raises for our educators and school personnel, more funding for public schools, and by giving every child a chance to succeed.”

With new indictments (reportedly) focused on Adam Corey, here is why Andrew Gillum should be worried

Breaking up is hard to do, particularly when the FBI is involved.

Tallahassee Mayor and Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum may no longer be “good friends” with lobbyist and entrepreneur Adam Corey — a casualty of an ongoing federal corruption probe — it doesn’t mean Gillum is totally out of the woods, especially with the Tallahassee Democrat reporting that “City Hall sources say a new FBI subpoena has been served on the city, seeking more records related to the Edison restaurant, correspondence with its developer (Corey) and audits and contracts.”

Here’s why indictments focused on Corey should be a cause for concern for Gillum.

According to city records, there were at least 12 Tallahassee City Commission votes affecting Corey’s lobbying clients or personal investments. The troubling part: Gillum voted yes on every single one.

Even more worrisome is this — a donation to Gillum’s campaign accompanied each of those votes.

Since 2015, Corey has been the target of the federal probe, starting when a self-described developer from Atlanta named “Mike Miller,” later revealed to be an FBI undercover agent, began socializing with local officials and the Tallahassee business community.

Corey, owner of the city-supported Edison restaurant and a one-time Gillum campaign treasurer, quickly emerged as point man, setting up meetings between Miller, Gillum and other city officials. At issue, interest in the Leon County/Tallahassee Community Redevelopment Agency, using property-tax revenues for improvements to the Frenchtown, downtown and southside districts.

According to the Tallahassee Democrat: “Corey and Miller arranged a weekend of outings in New York City in August 2016 during the same weekend that Gillum was in Manhattan for People for the American Way, the nonprofit agency he worked for until just before he announced he was running for governor.”

Corey helped set up a boat ride to the Statue of Liberty, with Miller and Gillum posing for photos, tickets to a Mets game and for the hit Broadway show “Hamilton.”

Friendliness in NYC is one thing, chumminess in Tallahassee is quite another.

Among the dozen projects with Gillum voting “yes” where Corey had business as a principle, client or investor include the 101 Restaurant, The Edison, Tallahassee Housing Authority, Downtown Improvement Association, and the Tallahassee Hospitality Group. Affiliated agencies and groups were Unconventional Strategies, Rick Kearney, Peter Leach, Paige Carter-Smith and Tallahassee City Commissioner Scott Maddox, among others.

Maddox and Carter-Smith, who serves as Downtown Improvement Authority executive director, joined Corey in federal subpoenas last year, as were J.T. Burnette, Chad Kittrell and Kim Rivers — also beneficiaries of Gillum “yes” votes.

In January, Gillum pledged “personal cooperation” to the FBI — and was assured he was not a direct target of the corruption probe.

“Mayor Gillum has zero tolerance for wrongdoing in Tallahassee,” Gillum’s Communications Director Geoff Burgan says. “It’s been clear for months that this investigation has focused on one of his colleagues and others. The campaign is focused on voters’ priorities like health care and public education.”

Nevertheless, considering his history of voting in lockstep with Corey’s interests — despite the current estrangement between the two — Gillum will undoubtedly feel the heat of federal indictments if any.

And, either way, it gives Gillum good reason to worry.

Chris King expands campaign staff

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King is promoting Stephanie McClung to deputy campaign manager and adding two new staff members, the campaign announced Tuesday.

McClung had been serving as finance director. She was a deputy finance direct for former Gov. Charlie Crist‘s 2014 gubernatorial campaign, and for Crist’s successful 2016 congressional campaign. She also had served as finance director at Ruth’s List Florida.

Jada H. Smith of Clermont joins as the campaign’s outreach coordinator. Smith served as chief operating officer of the Experience Christian Center in Orlando and has served as chief executive officer of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Florida and chief operating officer of the American Red Cross Mid-Florida Region.

Caitlin Lang of Winter Park will serve as Central Florida regional coordinator. Lang organized for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s 2017 gubernatorial campaign and was an organizer for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign in Orlando.

“After launching our first TV spot and rolling out a bold and progressive criminal justice plan earning statewide praise, we’re continuing to expand our campaign’s presence across the state,” Campaign Manager Zach Learner stated in a news release. “In this wide-open race for governor, Stephanie, Jada and Caitlin will help us share Chris’s message of fresh ideas and new leadership and we’re excited to have them on Team King.”

King is battling with former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum for the August 28 Democratic gubernatorial primary nomination. The leading Republicans are Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

Earlier this month, the King campaign announced the hiring of regional directors along the crucial I-4 corridor to lead the campaign’s organizing and outreach efforts in Central Florida and the Tampa Bay area.

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