Gwen Graham Archives - Florida Politics

Gwen Graham gets backing of Democrats’ disability caucus

The Florida Democratic Party Disability Caucus has endorsed Gwen Graham for Governor citing her unwavering commitment to individuals with disabilities, her campaign announced Tuesday.

“Gwen has demonstrated, in her past service, a strong commitment to individuals with disabilities regarding health care, education, community integration, criminal justice and voting rights,” Florida Democratic Disability Caucus President Karen Clay stated in a news release issued by Graham’s campaign.

The Disability Caucus provides representation for those with disabilities, both visible and invisible, and allies within the Florida Democratic Party.

Graham, the former congresswoman from Tallahassee, is battling with Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, businessman Jeff Greene, and businessman Chris King for the Aug. 28 Democratic primary nomination for Governor.

Graham’s announcement of the support comes the same day that Levine introduced his latest television commercial highlighting his commitment to helping people with disabilities.

Graham said in the news release, “I am proud to earn the endorsement of the Florida Democratic Disability Caucus. I strongly believe that all Floridians with disabilities should enjoy equal rights, independence, dignity, and freedom from abuse, neglect, and discrimination. As Governor, I will work with the caucus to expand care and lower costs for all Floridians.”

New Philip Levine ad is about disabilities, ‘heart’

With one television commercial, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine is managing to highlight his own efforts to help people with disabilities, bash President Donald Trump for mocking them, and accuse Gov. Rick Scott of being heartless.

The new 30-second TV commercial “Sabrina” that launched Tuesday, also offers a counter to Democratic rival Gwen Graham’s announcement that she has been endorsed by the Democratic Party’s Disabilities Caucus.

The ad focuses on a woman named Sabrina Cohen, a Miami-area advocate for people with disabilities and founder of the Sabrina Cohen Foundation. She explains a car accident took away her ability to walk when she was 14, and she praises Levine for his efforts when he was Miami Beach Mayor and calls him someone with “heart.”

Along the way, the commercial shows a beach identified as “the nation’s first adaptive beach,” and video of Trump mocking New York Times journalist Serge Kovaleski, who suffers from a joint condition that affects his movement. It also declares Florida has “a Governor with no heart.”

“During his tenure as Mayor of Miami Beach, Philip Levine worked with a local community advocate, Sabrina Cohen, to pass the nation’s first adaptive beach, granting access to the beach for the first time for people with disabilities,” Senior Adviser Christian Ulvert stated in a news release issued by the Levine campaign. “As Florida Democrats come together to put up their best against Donald Trump’s chosen candidate, Philip Levine offers a stark contrast to their divisive and cruel brand of politics. One thing that has been sorely lacking from Tallahassee and Washington these days is compassionate leadership — as Florida’s next Governor, Philip is ready to stand up, do what’s right, and lead our state with heart.”

First Levine needs to get past Graham, businessman Jeff Greene, businessman Chris King, and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in the Aug. 28 Democratic primary, while the man Ulvert obviously was referring to as “Trump’s chosen candidate,” U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, faces Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in the Republican primary.

In the ad, Cohen and Levine praise each other and then go after the Republicans.

“Together, we created the first adaptive beach in the nation, that will serve veterans, moms, and children,” Cohen says.

“All despite a President who ridicules people and a Governor with no heart,” Levine adds.

“With Philip, it’s all about heart and getting things done. And we haven’t had that for a very long time,” Cohen concludes.

Jeff Greene puts more money into Governor’s race

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jeff Greene loaned another $4.35 million to his gubernatorial campaign in late July and early August, bringing the total to more than $22 million, according to a new finance report.

Greene, a billionaire investor, had loaned $22.45 million to the campaign as of Aug. 3 and had received $2,315 in contributions. The campaign had spent $22.43 million, the report shows.

Greene, who entered the gubernatorial race in June, is running in the Aug. 28 primary against Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, Winter Park businessman Chris King and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine.

Gwen Graham raising campaign cash Thursday with past Dem. Gov. nominee

Former Congresswoman Gwen Graham will be in Tampa on Thursday to raise some cash to help her finish strong in the closing days of Democratic primary for Governor.

The fundraiser will be held at The Italian Club in Historic Ybor City, 1731 E. 7th St., from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. According to the invite, the suggested contribution is a relatively light $25. For those looking to attend, RSVP’s can be sent to Lark@GwenGraham.com.

Tampa businessman Charlie Brink, whose current project is a medical cannabis company, is serving as chair of the host committee, with a couple of high-profile Democrats listed as “Gwen’s Friends” on the invite.

Top on that list is former U.S. Rep. Jim Davis, who was the Democratic nominee for Florida Governor in 2006. He and Lt. Gov. nominee, former state Sen. Daryl Jones, lost 52-45 percent in the general election to then-Republican Charlie Crist.

Also showing up are St. Petersburg state Rep. Ben Diamond, former state Rep. and state Sen. Pat Frank, former U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce Francisco Sanchez, financial adviser John Few, developer and St. Pete for Good co-founder Jared Meyers, major philanthropists Frank and Carol Morsani, and Tampa attorney Crystal Whitescarver.

Graham is fresh off the release of fundraising reports that showed her campaign and political committee, Gwen Graham for Florida, reeling in nearly $1.5 million for the week of July 28 through Aug. 3. She also recently landed endorsements from musician and environmentalist Jimmy Buffett as well as former state Sen. Arthenia Joyner.

Graham faces Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene, Central Florida businessman Chris King and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine in the Aug. 28 primary election.

After months of polls showing Levine leading the race, the past several weeks have seen Graham rocket to the top in polls of the five-way race, with her lead sometimes hitting double digits. Her late momentum has brought attacks from her rivals, notably Greene, who has hit the airwaves with attacks on her environmental record, the Graham campaign and its surrogates have harshly rebutted.

The winner of the Democratic nomination will move on to face one of two Republicans on the November ballot — U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, who leads most polls on that side of the aisle, or Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

The fundraiser invitation is below.

Arthenia Joyner backs Gwen Graham for Governor

Former Congresswoman Gwen Graham keeps picking up steam in the final stretch of the Democratic primary for Governor.

Fresh off a nod from Jimmy Buffett, the campaign followed up with an endorsement that’s more traditional, though no less impressive: former Senate Democratic Leader Arthenia Joyner.

“For too long, too many Floridians have been left behind by their governor and the politicians in Tallahassee. Our communities have been forgotten, our voting rights have been attacked and our civil rights weakened,” Joyner said. “Enough is enough. In 2018, we are going to reverse the trend and elect a Democrat who will fight for all Floridians — and that governor will be Gwen Graham.

“In Congress, Gwen cosponsored legislation to restore the Voting Rights Act. She has been a leading supporter of Amendment 4 to restore voting rights to returning citizens, and she has proposed comprehensive plans to expand voting rights and reform Florida’s criminal justice system,” Joyner said.

Joyner served in the state Legislature for 16 years beginning in 2000, though her impressive CV includes becoming the first black attorney in Polk County, the first black female attorney in Hillsborough County and the longest practicing black female lawyer in Florida history.

She is also a past president of the National Bar Association, holding that position from 1984-1995 and facing arrest during her tenure for protesting apartheid.

Additionally, Joyner also served on the 2017-18 Constitution Revision Commission.

“As a woman, Gwen understands the issues we face because she has lived them — but more than that, on Workdays and at roundtables, she has taken the time to get to know Floridians from all walks of life, to understand their challenges and present innovative solutions to help them,” Joyner said. “Gwen will work with leaders from every community to restore our public schools, protect our environment and expand health care.”

Joyner’s endorsement comes as Graham’s campaign for governor seems to have hit its stride — she showed nearly $1.5 million in new money in her most recent fundraising report, and in nearly every recent poll, the North Florida Democrat has posted a solid lead in the five-way race.

“Senator Arthenia Joyner is a living legend and trailblazer. She has dedicated her life to fighting for Florida families — and it is an honor to have her support,” Graham said. “As governor, I will work hand in hand with Senator Joyner to expand voting rights, invest more in every public school, ban oil drilling off our beaches, and finally expand health care for almost 1 million Floridians. Together, we will bring decency, respect and progress back to our state’s capital.

Graham faces Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene, Orlando area businessman Chris King and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine in the Aug. 28 primary race.

The winner of the Democratic nomination will face either U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis or Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam on the November ballot.

Florida politicians react to Clearwater ‘Stand Your Ground’ arrest

Nearly a month after he fatally shot Markeis McGlocktonMichael Drejka was arrested and booked into the Pinellas County Jail on Monday afternoon on charges of manslaughter.

Drejka, 47, last month started an argument with the 28-year-old McGlockton’s girlfriend, Britany Jacobs, over her use of a handicapped spot in a convenience store parking lot. Upon exiting the store and noticing the argument, McGlockton rushed over and pushed Drejka to the ground.

Still on the ground, Dreika pulled a gun, fired, and killed McGlockton. Security camera footage from the convenience store appears to show McGlockton backing away from Drejka after he drew his weapon, but Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri chose not to arrest Drejka.

The sheriff, a law school grad, cited a 2017 change to the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law that required law enforcement to prove a shooter didn’t feel threatened before filing criminal charges.

That decision was met with uproar:

— McGlockton’s family demanded charges be filed,

— State Rep. Shevrin Jones, a Democrat, and Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon urged State Attorney Bernie McCabe to pursue the case,

— Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson called on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the shooting, as did the Clearwater/Upper Pinellas NAACP,

— Democratic candidate for Governor Andrew Gillum called on Gov. Rick Scott to suspend the law by executive order,

— Tampa Councilman Harry Cohen renewed his call for an outright repeal,

— National racial justice group Color of Change started a campaign to “Stop ‘Stand Your Ground’,”

— Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King delivered a fiery speech on the racial disparity in the use of “Stand Your Ground,” and

— Democratic lawmakers called for a Special Legislative Session, though the request failed along party lines.

Now that Drejka has been arrested and charged with manslaughter, numerous politicians — mostly Democrats — have released statements commenting on the length of time after the shooting, which took place July 19, whether the charges were strong enough, and reiterating their calls for a “Stand Your Ground” repeal.

Democratic Attorney General candidate Sean Shaw:

“This day is too long coming. Justice delayed is justice denied and we continue to seek justice for the McGlockton family and so many other families across this state. Stand Your Ground laws are wrong and have no place in a civilized society. Starting on day one as Attorney General, I will do everything in my power to force the legislature to repeal this terrible law. We look forward to Mr. Drejka receiving his day in court.”

King, an Orlando area businessman:

“The state attorney’s office is doing what Sheriff Gualtieri has failed to do thus far –– seeking justice for the death of Markeis McGlockton. This community is crying out for action and the McGlockton family deserves justice, and that’s why I’ve been calling for leaders to act since this tragedy occurred. Today’s decision is another example why Florida’s broken ‘stand your ground’ law must be repealed so that justice in this case and every other tragedy can never be delayed or denied.”

Fellow Democratic candidate for Governor, former Congresswoman Gwen Graham:

Gillum, currently the mayor of Tallahassee, repeated his call for Gov. Scott to suspend SYG:

Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, also a Democratic candidate for Governor, said the family “deserves justice”:

The fifth Democratic candidate for Governor, Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene, said the following:

Neither of the two major Republicans running to replace Scott, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, commented on the arrest, nor did current Attorney General Pam Bondi or the two Republican candidates vying to succeed her, Pensacola state Rep. Frank White and former Hillsborough Circuit Judge Ashley Moody.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said it supported the decision.

Jones, who represents Broward County’s HD 101, acknowledged the arrest via twitter:

Tampa Attorney Karen Skyers, a Democratic candidate for House District 61:

“I applaud the decision by the State Attorney’s Office to charge Michael Drejka in the shooting death of Markeis McGlockton,” Skyers said.

“As an attorney and an advocate, failure to prosecute would have been yet another rubber stamp on the use of “Stand Your Ground” as a license to kill, a situation that tragically occurs far too often in Florida.

“And while I’m encouraged by today’s news, it could have just as easily gone the other way. So long as this terrible law remains on the books, the people of Florida – especially people of color – remain especially at risk whenever an aggressor is spoiling for a fight and the last man standing is the only living witness.

“This is why change is needed. And this is why I continue to pledge that the very first bill I will file as the Representative for House District 61 is a repeal of this dangerous law.”

Gwen Graham seeks Parrothead vote with Jimmy Buffett endorsement

Gwen Graham is going after votes in Margaritaville: Musician and environmentalist Jimmy Buffett says he’s backing Graham’s gubernatorial campaign.

The campaign announced the endorsement by Buffett on Monday.

“Like her dad, Gwen will put the interests of everyday Floridians first,” Buffett said in a statement. “She has a heart for people and a passion for the Sunshine State.

“She’ll protect our precious natural environment, ensure we have strong public schools and affordable health care. It’s been too long since we have had a Governor for all the people.”

Buffett has been a staple in Florida since moving to Key West in the 1970s.

He is best known for hits such as “Cheeseburger in Paradise” and “Margaritaville.” The latter song has been brought to life in the form of a restaurant chain, as well as a resort on Hollywood Beach in South Florida.

In addition to his lengthy music career, Buffett has also donated his time and resources to charity work, focusing on the environment and disaster relief programs.

“Jimmy isn’t just a legendary musician, he is also a dedicated environmentalist who has worked with my family for years to preserve Florida’s natural treasures,” Graham said.

“I am proud to have earned his vote on Election Day. Come that Tuesday, it’ll be alright.”

Graham is competing for the Democratic nomination with Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene, Winter Park entrepreneur Chris King, and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine.

In addition to the endorsement, Buffett is set to play a “Get Out the Vote” rally for Graham on Aug. 23, just five days before the Democratic primary.

The campaign said details about the event, which will be in South Florida, would be released in the coming days.

Democratic candidates push for expanded health care coverage

Reflecting the same fault lines that have emerged nationally, Florida’s Democratic and Republican candidates for governor are deeply split over whether the state should take a more direct role in providing health care.

And that split is resonating in a campaign where health care has become one of the touchstone issues for the five Democrats running in the Aug. 28 primary.

Democrats Andrew Gillum, Gwen Graham, Jeff Greene, Chris King and Philip Levine are united in their support for expanding Medicaid to the 700,000 Floridians who would qualify for the program if Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-dominated Legislature had agreed to expand coverage to uninsured working adults.

But the five Democrats have not taken identical stances on health-care issues, including whether the state should allow the recreational use of marijuana instead of just limiting it to patients with chronic medical conditions.

And none of the Democratic candidates appears to have cornered support from Florida’s vast health-care industry. An analysis of contribution data to campaigns and political committees shows Levine, a former Miami Beach mayor, has collected more than $210,444 from the industry, while King, a Winter Park businessman, has gotten nearly $181,000. Graham a former congresswoman, has received nearly $171,000, and Gillum, the Tallahassee mayor, reported taking in contributions of nearly $160,000. Greene, a Palm Beach billionaire, has virtually self-funded his campaign.

Democrats are making sure voters are aware of health-care issues during the campaign. Florida’s uninsured rate in 2013, the year before federal Affordable Care Act plans became available, was 20 percent and one of the highest in the nation. In 2016, the rate was 12.5 percent.

The Florida Democratic Party has pointed to polls, such as one done this year by AARP and Politico, that showed health care is a top issue among voters 50 and older.

But Kevin McCarty, the state’s former long-time insurance commissioner, said he doesn’t think it will be a marquee issue this election.

A Republican, McCarty said that as Floridians prepare to go to the polls in coming weeks a mandate that insurance companies sell policies to people regardless of pre-existing conditions remains in effect. Also remaining in effect are subsidies that flow to people who are purchasing policies on the federal health-care exchange. The subsidies, McCarty said, keep people protected from having to pay the full costs of the policies.

“I don’t think it’s front and center of the mind,” McCarty said.

“But I don’t think there’s any question those issues will be front and center of the political arena for the next four years,” McCarty said, referring to, among other things, a multi-state legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act filed in federal court in Texas.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said he won’t defend the law against the challenge, which Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi joined. The challenge could ensure that the pre-existing condition protections will be eliminated. Seventeen other states have intervened to defend the Affordable Care Act.

More than 1.7 million Florida residents enrolled in the federal exchange to buy health policies this year. Ninety percent of them are receiving some sort of discounts to help offset the costs of the coverage, according to federal data.

King and Graham said they aren’t afraid to use the power of the governor’s office to bolster the insurance exchange.

Both candidates’ platforms would require managed-care plans participating in Medicaid to offer health plans on the federal exchange. King said he also would use incentives — carrots and sticks — to require Medicare health plans to participate in the marketplace. He called the policy “universal participation.”

Gillum supports the Affordable Care Act and has said that he would change Florida’s insurance laws to make sure they have the same pre-existing condition protections that are in the federal law.

But Gillum also said he also supports U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” plan. Sanders, a Vermont independent who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, has endorsed Gillum’s campaign.

While McCarty maintains that health care isn’t foremost on people’s minds this year, residents have enough concerns to keep the advocacy group Florida Voices for Health busy, said Louisa McQueeney, the group’s communications director.

She said the organization has been hosting town-hall meetings and talking with people who could be impacted if protections in the federal law are eliminated.

People who come to Florida Voices for Health for assistance, though, generally aren’t pressing for information about the gubernatorial candidates and the candidates’ health-care and insurance agendas.

“They want information on health care,” she said. “What we’re being asked for is to help us to understand the potential changes to the Affordable Care Act, the Medicaid expansion and now, the short-term plans.”

The Democratic candidates part ways when it comes to other health-care issues that may resonate with voters, including their positions on whether to expand marijuana legalization in Florida beyond current medical-only uses.

Gillum was the first to support allowing recreational use of the drug. King and Levine also support it.

Graham and Greene support legal marijuana only for medical uses. Graham said, though, that she would decriminalize the use of marijuana, a step short of full legalization.

Gwen Graham adds $1.5M as Philip Levine, Jeff Greene pour more cash into Gov. campaigns

Gwen Graham’s campaign for Governor added nearly $1.5 million to its coffers last week as Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine continued juicing their campaign accounts with seven-figure checks from their own fortunes.

Though the haul is Graham’s largest yet, it mainly came in through a pair of state matching funds checks — one check for $991,598 on July 28, and another for $103,970 on Aug. 3, the final day of the reporting period.

The state campaign matching funds program, open only to candidates for Governor and Cabinet positions, matches contributions of $250 or less from individuals who were state residents at the time of making the contribution. The first distribution of those funds is made 60 days before the primary election.

The campaign tacked on another $167,500 or so from donors. While seven max checks — $3,000 for statewide races — topped the list of individual supporters, her campaign added hundreds more contributions.

Overall, Graham received a whopping 1,900 contributions from individuals and a well over 1,700 of them measured in at $100 or less. Excluding the matching funds, the average campaign contribution for the week was about $88.

The campaign haul was accompanied by another $218,150 raised for her affiliated political committee, Gwen Graham for Florida. Graham’s cousin, Stephen Graham of New York City, topped the committee report with a $50,000 check alongside Anne Pajcic of the prominent family of Duval Democratic boosters that includes former Rep. Steve Pacjic.

Checking in at the $25,000 level were Pompano Beach retiree Michael Cohen and Hugh Culverhouse Jr., the son of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Hugh Culverhouse Sr., who died in 1994.

The Democratic Services Network, the Florida Institute for Politics and NARAL Pro-Choice America also cut five-figure checks, with most of the rest of the committee haul coming in from individuals who have already maxed out on the campaign side.

In all, Graham’s two accounts shelled out $1.57 million for the week, with $1.41 million of that heading to Virginia-based Screen Strategies Media for an ad buy, and another $141,501 paying for media production services from Washington-based Dixon/Davis Media Group and Virginia-based Deliver Strategies.

With the books closed at midnight on Aug. 3, Graham’s overall fundraising had had passed the $12 million mark and she had about $1.35 million banked between her two accounts.

Graham’s on hand total tops the primary field, as does her fundraising total if loans are excluded. Including them, however, puts her in third behind Levine and Greene.

Greene anted up another $4.35 million for the week, and spent another $4.6 million, and in keeping with the strategy he’s employed thus far, the campaign account served merely as a pass through for checks to media buying agencies.

Between July 28 and Aug. 3, California-based Fortune Media picked up $3.2 million in checks from Team Greene, while Washington’s The Incite Agency received $526,668 and Coral Gables-based Adkins & Associates received $78,925.

In addition to media buys, the campaign spent more than $550,000 on “communications services” — $319,000 for Washington’s Winning Connections, $227,446 for Nashville’s Counterpoint Messaging and $10,000 for Gainesville’s Everblue Communications.

Various consulting contracts and travel expenses ate away the rest of the funds.

Greene has now pumped $22.45 million into his campaign account and has brought in just $2,315 from donors. He finished the reporting period with just shy of $20,000 in his campaign account.

Levine, meanwhile, bolstered his $72,843 in outside fundraising with a $1.37 million loan, for an overall haul of $1.45 million for the week. Like his opponents, his nearly $1.5 million spending during this leg of the sprint outweighed his income and mainly went toward media buys.

The $10,343 in outside cash raised by the campaign came in from about 150 or so small-dollar donors who gave an average of $67.12 apiece. The bulk of the committee’s 62,500.00 haul came in through a $50,000 check from Cuban-born Miami businessman Paul Cejas, who served as U.S. Ambassador to Belgium during the Clinton Administration.

Levine’s TV spending rang up at $1.37 million for the week, while another $38,000 in advertising dollars were directed to various online publications $4,215 was spent boosting Levine’s tweets. The rest of the outflow mainly went toward bills to keep the lights on and the doors open at the campaign’s many field office throughout the state.

Overall, Levine has raised $25.19 million between his campaign and All About Florida political committee, including about $16.4 million in candidate loans and candidate contributions. He had about $400,000 in the bank between his two accounts on Aug. 3.

Graham, Greene and Levine are the top three Democratic candidates in most polls of the race, though recent measures have shown Graham rocketing into first place as Greene and Levine have tussled over past comments on President Donald Trump — both of them were more gracious in than glowing when they made their comments, which simply wished the president luck and success for the good of the country.

Greene has additionally come out hard against both his top-tier rivals by releasing attack ads bashing their environmental records. The Levine attack says human waste was dumped into Biscayne Bay; the Graham attack says American Dream Miami megamall being developed on land partly owned by the Graham Companies will damage the Everglades.

Coming in fourth in most polls of the five-way race is Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who raised $409,419 between his campaign and Forward Florida political committee last week.

Three-quarters of that cash came in from a pair of checks from some nationally familiar names. NextGen Climate America, the advocacy group headed up by billionaire Tom Steyer, chipped in $250,000, while Jonathan Soros, the son of business magnate George Soros, gave $50,000.

Gillum’s campaign account brought in another $100,900 from 1,370 donors who gave an average of $74.42 apiece. Spending for the week nearly hit $1 million, including $888,000 in advertising spending and along with a host of charges for campaign travel.

Since entering the race early last year, Gillum has raised $5.2 million with $817,515 on hand on Aug. 3.

Winter Park entrepreneur Chris King rounded out the pack with a report that shows signs of a slowing campaign. The week brought him just over $10,000 in new money while $109,238 went out the door. The measly numbers come after he pumped another $2 million into his campaign during the first half of July.

including $4 million in candidate loans, King has now raised $8 million between his campaign and committee, Rise and Lead, Florida. He had $779,865 at the ready on Aug. 3.

The five Democratic hopefuls are only about two weeks out from the Aug. 28 primary election, when four of their campaigns will end and the winner among them will head on to face either U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis or Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam on the November ballot.

Jeff Greene, Philip Levine spar over who is too cuddly with Donald Trump

Democratic gubernatorial candidates Jeff Greene and Philip Levine exchanged blows over the airwaves with attacks challenging, among other things, friendly remarks both men have made about President Donald Trump.

Greene, a Palm Beach billionaire, pushed back on accusations by Levine that he’s too comfy with Trump. Instead he released a new ad suggesting the Miami Beach mayor was the one kissing up to the unpopular president.

Greene’s campaign on Saturday started playing statewide the included video of the remarks that repeatedly used a clip of Levine from a Fox News Radio interview in mid-2017, six months into the Trump administration. “So far the President has done a very good job,” Levine is seen saying again and again, as a narrator notes unpopular moments of Trump’s presidency.

For the record, Levine’s camp says that isolated quote is taken out of context, and that Levine only said the president had done well during a particular trip to Warsaw.

The Greene attack came the same day a new statewide television ad from the Greene campaign attacked Levine for “turning Biscayne Bay into a cesspool” with the city sewer system.

But folks in Levine camp were quick to note some of the footage used in the ad actually showed sewage systems in other countries, not Biscayne Bay.

Levine fired back pinging Greene for a tightness to Trump and for profiting off the housing bust, and responding to the new ads with footage of the one-time Mar-A-Lago member praising Trump the day after the election. “I know Donald Trump. He’s a great guy,” Greene said in an interview on Fox Business.

Greene previously said his comments on Fox Business were in the same spirit as calls for unity after the election made by former President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Levine in an ad pushing back on Greene today defended his environmental record as mayor of Miami Beach. “We took on sea level rise like no other city in the world,” Levine says in the ad, “and we’ve been honored like no other city in the world.”

Incidentally, the back-and-forth between Levine and Green comes as the men seemingly fight for second place in the Democratic primary for governor.

Even an internal poll released this week by the Levine campaign shows him trailing former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham by four points. But the day that poll came out, Graham released a poll showing her beating Levine by 16 points. Greene came in third place in a five-man field in both instances.

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