Philip Levine Archives - Page 7 of 43 - Florida Politics

Jeff Greene launches new ads on wages, seniors

Seniors and the push for higher-wage jobs are the subjects of a pair of new ads from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jeff Greene.

The first 30-second spot, “Fighting for Seniors,” highlights the Palm Beach billionaire’s commitment to protecting seniors from Republican efforts — specifically President Donald Trump — to privatize Social Security and Medicare, prevent insurers from providing care for those with pre-existing conditions, and to thwart Medicaid expansion.

In “Wages,” Greene pledges to transform the “low-wage, low-skill economy” created by current Gov. Rick Scott, into “higher-skilled, higher-paying jobs.” He also touts creating “thousands of jobs” through his real estate business and educating future works at this need-blind private school he founded in West Palm Beach.

Both ads come less than a day after all five major candidates in the Democratic field — Greene, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Orlando businessman Chris King — participated in a forum of one-on-one interviews in Jacksonville with News4Jax reporter Kent Justice, sponsored by WJXT and Jacksonville University.

Most recent polling is putting Green in third place, behind Graham and Levine. As reported earlier by Florida Politics, a survey commissioned by Levine’s campaign from Public Policy Polling puts Graham at 26 percent and Levine at 22 percent; Greene sits at 16 percent. The poll also gives Gillum 13 percent and King 4 percent, with only 19 percent of likely Democratic primary voters remaining undecided.

Greene is also facing heat after a five-year-old police report surfaced describing Greene smacking a waitress working at his Omphoy Beach Resort in West Palm Beach on the arm to get her attention. The Florida chapter of the National Organization for Women is calling on him to “immediately drop out of the race.”

Philip Levine calls out Jeff Greene for ‘passing the Grey Poupon’ at Mar-a-Lago

Thursday night’s town hall forum in Jacksonville between the Democratic field of gubernatorial candidates lacked fireworks.

The media availability afterwards? A different story, as two top-tier candidates slugged it out.

Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, who was leading in polls up until Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene got in the race, was upbeat when asked the state of the campaign, even as he had a pointed rejoinder for that late-filing opponent.

We asked point blank: would this be a different race if Greene hadn’t gotten in?

“I think that Floridians are getting a good choice with lots of different candidates,” Levine said. “Do they want somebody with no governmental experience to go right to the top job like our President? I don’t think so.”

“When they look at me,” Levine added, “they see somebody who’s not only very successful in business starting from nothing, but this is somebody who’s also been a very successful two-term mayor.”

Levine noted that he “actually fought Donald Trump for a year and a half of his life,” who didn’t “as you can imagine, pass the Grey Poupon at the Kremlin-by-the-Sea, Mar-a-Lago.”

Greene soon enough had comment on Levine’s jibes regarding his relationship with President Trump, as well as context for his description of Trump as a “great guy” after the Republican defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016.

“First of all,” Greene said, “just like President [Barack] Obama and Hillary Clinton when he was elected, I said every American should give our new President a chance, which I did, but it didn’t take me long to see that the kinds of things he’d done, like in Charlottesville and yanking little babies out of their mothers’ arms.”

“I’ve been the strongest opponent of Donald Trump. I’ve been the only one who stood up to him in his own dining room,” Greene said, vowing to “stand up to Donald Trump as Governor of Florida.”

We noted that as a candidate, Trump gave indications that he was not, for Democratic purposes, a “great guy,” and had signalled intentions to govern as he has as soon as he launched his campaign in 2015 with nativist appeals.

“Honestly,” Greene said, “I mean, I think that when I become governor, I hope that Adam Putnam and Ron DeSantis will say ‘Jeff’s a great guy, let’s give him a chance’.”

“That’s the American way,” Greene added.

Democratic gubernatorial forum stays sedate, changes no narratives

With under three weeks to go in the Democratic race for Governor, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham leads in most polls against her four opponents going into a televised Thursday forum in Jacksonville.

It was incumbent upon former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, West Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and Winter Park businessman Chris King to make their cases to voters in an hour-long town hall, counterprogrammed by the home opener of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ preseason.

The question going in: Could any of the four change the narrative of the campaign heading into in-person early voting with approximately nine minutes each of screen time, one that had seen Graham’s slow and steady campaign impervious to attacks from the rest of the field?

The answer: a hard no.

The discussion stayed in the policy vein. There was no need for moderator Kent Justice to quiet the crowd, a contrast to the pitched GOP debate in this theater the night before. And while educational for viewers, the narrative of the race didn’t change, with candidates focusing on attacking Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis, rather than each other.

Levine spoke in favor of cannabis legalization and against President Donald Trump. He described the “sanctuary cities” construct as a “Republican ploy to divide us.” And while he supports Enterprise Florida, he doesn’t back “bribing corporations to come [to Florida].”

Greene, who had lobbied vicious attacks on Graham regarding the “American Dream” mall development, had no opportunity to throw elbows in this forum, instead relegated to familiar, positive talking points, such as “Florida needs someone who can be a leader,” along with advocacy for expanded pre-K programs.

“We’re 38th in the country, we should be top 5,” Greene said regarding educational spending.

As was the case with Levine, Greene had no use for Trump (“a national embarrassment”) or paying companies to relocate to the state.

Graham was up next. She noted her past as a PTA mom; she was pressed on the relevance of that, and noted to scattered laughter that the job may have been her toughest ever.

When asked about experience as a chief executive, she noted she ran her household, in addition to spending a term in Congress.

Graham also noted that more money needs to be spent on education, with a “public option” for health insurance allowing for savings via expanding Medicaid.

Her “commitment to health care,” she said, was her biggest difference with the rest of the Democratic field.

It was up to the moderator to ask Graham about the American Dream mall hit.

“My family is not building a mall. Period. End of story,” Graham said, adding that she worked to avoid “an appearance of conflict.” If she could be accused of such a conflict as Governor, Graham said she would recuse herself — and challenged her opponents to make the same declaration.

Her moderate voting record in Congress came up also, with Graham noting she voted with Democrats over 80 percent of the time.

“We could elect robots to Congress and save a lot of money,” Graham said, if “straight party voting” was the desired outcome.

Gillum got his nine minutes next.

“I have been proud to lead this field over a whole range of issues,” including “Medicaid for all” and a “$1 billion program” to improve education and “pay teachers what they’re worth.”

Gillum’s support from Bernie Sanders, a “Democratic socialist,” was questioned.

“These labels are insignificant when it comes to everyday life of people in the state … I’m a Democrat and an individual who believes people have had a rough ride in this state … these labels are easy to throw on folks,” Gillum said, “but mean nothing.”

Gillum also described himself as “the most qualified candidate” in the race, given his tenure in Tallahassee, noting that “business experience” doesn’t equate to governing aptitude.

Gillum went on to invoke a Koch Brothers study that said Medicare for All would save the health care system money, saying that Medicaid expansion would be an immediate priority, were he to be elected.

“Being a cheap date hasn’t worked for Florida,” Gillum said when asked about a proposal to increase the corporate tax rate.

King was the closer. In single digits in most polls, he nonetheless represented his agenda and his candidacy with the grace he’d brought to the trail throughout this bid.

Poll shows Bob Buckhorn’s popularity makes compelling case for Lt. Gov. pick

It seems like an eternity since Bob Buckhorn ended speculation that he would seek the Democratic nomination for Governor, but the popular two-term Tampa Mayor could very well end up spending the next four or eight years in Tallahassee.

According to a new poll conducted by ClearView Research, Buckhorn is still wildly popular among Tampa voters, making him a top-tier contender to join the Democratic gubernatorial nominee as their Lieutenant Governor pick on the November ballot.

The poll, conducted in May, found no evidence of “Buckhorn fatigue” among Tampanians. More than three quarters of respondents said they had a positive view of the 60-year-old politician more than seven years into his reign at City Hall. Of those, 36 percent said they saw Buckhorn as “very favorable.”

The rest of the crowd weren’t too down on him. Just 7 percent had a “somewhat unfavorable” impression of Buckhorn, while 5 percent were resolute in their dislike. The remainder, per the poll, were either unsure or refused to answer the question.

Of course, those numbers could shift in the current sharply divided political climate. It’s no secret that Buckhorn is a Democrat, but Tampa Mayor is a non-partisan office and no voter saw a “D” next to his name on the ballot in either 2011, when he won the job with 63 percent of the vote, or 2015, when he was re-elected with 96 percent support.

Buckhorn has his detractors, and while most attacks have rolled off him like water off a duck’s back during his time as mayor, their attacks would be magnified if his name was on the statewide ballot. Think the Koch brothers-backed blasts on Buckhorn’s involvement in the Tampa Bay Rays stadium proposal.

Still, would adding Buckhorn to the ticket help the Democratic gubernatorial nominee? It’s not unlikely.

Hillsborough County is among the most important in any statewide election. It has accounted for about 6 percent of the state wide vote in the last four general elections, but despite voting plus-7 for Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election and for Hillary Clinton by the same margin two years ago, the county has been much tighter in the past two gubernatorial races.

Charlie Crist won Hillsborough by a slim 48-46 margin when he ran for his old job as a Democrat in 2014, which was a downgrade from Alex Sink’s 50-47 performance in the county four years prior.

Take Buckhorn’s ubiquity in Tampa politics and his popularity and toss in the fact that Nov. 6 is shaping up to be a showdown between a loyal Donald Trump Republican and a Democrat — be it current poll leader Gwen Graham, Jeff Greene or Philip Levine — that has vowed firm opposition to the president.

That’s a recipe for running up the score in Tampa Bay.

But does Buckhorn even want to be Lieutenant Governor? It’s a largely ceremonial position that has no real assigned duties unless, per the Florida Constitution, the Governor doles them out.

That remains to be seen. Few believe he’ll sit on the sidelines after his term runs out in the spring, and rumors indicate he’s actively gunning for the job.

The ClearView Research poll was conducted May 1 through May 10 and took responses from 301 Tampa voters via live phone interviews, 38 percent of whom were reached by cell phone. The sample was balanced by gender, race, age, and party in order for our distribution to be consistent and similar to the actual voting population.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.64 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

Gwen Graham grabs Palm Beach County Mayor’s endorsement

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham has secured the endorsement of Palm Beach County Mayor Melissa McKinlay in the closing weeks before the Aug. 28 primary, her campaign announced Thursday.

McKinlay’s endorsement is a grab from the home of Graham’s rival Democratic candidate Palm Beach businessman Jeff Greene, with whom Graham has been trading nasty shots in the past couple of weeks over each other’s environmental protection commitments.

It’s also another woman political leader joining a Graham campaign that has not shied from gender references in anticipation of a large female voter turnout, something Greene also has sought to appeal to with his “For Women” commercial that has blanketed Florida airwaves the past two weeks.

“As a mom, I am excited to have a fellow mom in the Governor’s office,” McKinlay stated in a news release issued Thursday morning by Graham’s campaign. “Gwen’s life experiences have made her a strong leader and a master negotiator. She is committed to bridging the divide in our politics and our government. It is time we have a leader in the Governor’s office who truly understands what Florida families need and will work for us every single day. That leader is Gwen Graham.”

Graham and Greene also face former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and Winter Park businessman Chris King in the Aug. 28 Democratic gubernatorial primary.

McKinlay, elected to the Palm Beach Board of County Commissioners in 2014, has been an outspoken leader in the fight to combat opioid abuse, provide more affordable housing, and protect the environment, Graham’s campaign stated.

“Gwen understands the challenges facing South Florida. She will fight every day to restore our public schools and protect Palm Beach County’s natural treasures,” McKinlay added.

Philip Levine goes on another round of attacks against Donald Trump

It’s another round in Philip Levine‘s war of words against Donald Trump, as the Democratic candidate for Governor is out with a second ad taking aim at the President.

Levine vs. Trump: Round 2” targets Trump over multiple past controversies, contrasting Levine’s actions against those of Trump.

“Trump ridicules people with disabilities, locks up the children of immigrants and makes demeaning women his personal punching bag,” begins the ad’s narrator.

“As mayor, Philip Levine pioneered breakthroughs for the disabled, earned a perfect score for human rights and took on the president by defending the DREAMers. Round 2: Levine, because he’ll never stop fighting intolerance.”

As the name suggests, the ad is the second of its kind from Levine. The first version focused on Trump’s gun policies and his support of the NRA.

While Trump isn’t on the ballot this year, he’s already inserted himself into the gubernatorial race, endorsing Republican candidate and current U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

Florida’s next governor may also have the chance to face off with the President, as multiple lawsuits have been filed by states against the administration regarding issues such as immigration, gun laws, and tax reform.

“Floridians are looking for a leader who is ready to pick up the gloves and fight back to defend Florida families,” said Christian Ulvert, senior advisor to the campaign.

“While Trump has denigrated women, ridiculed those with disabilities, undermined LGBT protections, attacked immigrants and locked up children, Philip has been on the front lines trying to elect the first female president, fighting for the LGBT and disabled community in Miami Beach, and stepping up to defend DREAMers.

“After twenty years of failed attempts to take back the Governor’s Office, Florida Democrats are ready to elect a fighter like Philip Levine with the resume and resolve to win back our state and stop Donald Trump in his tracks.”

The new ad comes as Levine has slipped in the polls a bit, with Gwen Graham taking a consistent lead in recent surveys. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene, and Winter Park businessman Chris King are also competing for the Democratic nomination.

‘Gwen and the Men’ and the narrative heading into tonight’s downhill in Jacksonville

Despite the best efforts of four opponents, Gwen Graham goes into a televised forum Thursday evening in Jacksonville looking like the Democratic nominee for Governor.

The trend lines nationally point to a Graham win, another entrant to what is called in some quarters a sisterhood of gubernatorial nominees, in what seems like a year favorable to women running for office.

The most recent polls, meanwhile, say it’s not so much a matter of if Graham is going to win, but by how much. Undecideds are breaking her way, and this is the time a candidate would want that to happen.

The ALG Research poll, taken last week, had Graham at 33 percent, with the field lagging behind: 17 percent for former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine; 13 percent backing Palm Beach businessman Jeff Greene; 10 percent supporting Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum; and 3 percent for Winter Park businessman Chris King.

This poll, first reported by POLITICO, was pushed by the Graham campaign.

Levine’s camp is pushing its own internal poll showing him down, but by four points, to Graham (26-22). Greene is farther back at 16 percent.

The question, for Levine, Greene, Gillum, and King, is an existential one: How does one attack Graham?

No one has figured out how to make attacks resonate yet. King and Greene attempted to assail Graham’s environmental bona fides. Gillum has seen the Collective PAC do his dirty work. But none of it, per poll after poll, has mattered.

In the format Thursday evening, it will be difficult for candidates to distinguish themselves — and not because much of the television audience will have at least one eye on the Jaguars’ preseason opener.

An hour-long forum, divvied up between five candidates who tend to pivot to talking points with every answer, goes very quickly, and the likelihood for new ground being plowed is minimal in that context.

Gwen Graham sees film biz woes as symptom of ideology malaise

After hearing out leaders of Florida’s struggling film industry, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham pledged to help as governor and said she blames ideological thinking in Tallahassee for driving away much of Florida’s former movie business.

“It’s a philosophical problem. That’s what it is. That’s what it is!” Graham said. “That’s what it is in all these areas when you talk about health care, the education system. These have become ideological tools for state government. And that’s not your job

“Your job when you’re provided the opportunity to do what’s right, and to help the state, is to not be influenced by ideology. And it makes me so angry,” she continued.

The matter came up as Graham pressed a table full of Florida film and TV entertainment production business representatives on why the state’s ability to attract TV and movie production has suddenly dried up and blown away to Georgia and other states in the past three to five years.

John Lux, executive director of Film Florida, a statewide industry organizaiton, and other film representatives told Graham the same thing they told her Democratic primary rival Philip Levine two weeks ago: that they perceive a rigid opposition in state leadership to providing any more business incentives, while states like Georgia and Texas have waved checks and called out, “over here!”

Levine, who’s been making a commitment to turn around Florida’s declining film industry a plank in his platform almost from the start of his campaign, pledged full support to the industry two weeks ago. Graham offered the same.

Lux said he also has spoken by phone with two other Democratic candidates, Jeff Greene and Andrew Gillum, and with the staff of the fifth, Chris King, receiving support.

Lux said he and others in the industry also have reached out to the leading Republican candidates, Ron DeSantis and Adam Putnam, but have gotten no responses.

At a meeting at Adrenaline Films of Edgwood on Wednesday, Lux, University of Central Florida film professor Lisa Mills, Michael Jordan of MJJ Entertainment and Filmotechnic USA, actor Tom Nowicki, and others argued that the costs to Florida include the losses of high-paying jobs associated with each production, the potential to develop permanent film production businesses in Florida, the tourism boost a movie or TV show can provide, and a source for careers for actors and college graduates coming out of Florida’s film schools.

The talk from Tallahassee leaders in recent years, the film representatives said, has focused exclusively on returns on investment for state money. But they charged that the formulas the state is citing do not take into account the Florida product placement in popular movies and TV shows to promote Florida tourism, or the potential for Florida to feed development of a critical mass to grow its own film industry. And they argued that Florida doesn’t need to be nearly as generous with incentives as states like Georgia and North Carolina, it just needs to look interested.

“They want to come here,” Lux said.

They focused on “Bloodline,” the Netflix Florida Keys-based TV series that ran for three seasons, before shutting down in 2017 with complaints that Florida was no longer a welcoming place for its production. Nowicki played an evil developer in that seires.

“In addition to the $30 million that was spent just on production, they found another $65 million in incremental tourism in people that decided to go there,” Lux said.

Then there was “Dolphin Tale,” the 2011 movie in which Nowicki also had a role.

“Before Dolphin Tale 1, the [Clearwater Marine] Aquarium was averaging 75,000, 80,000 visitors a year. The year after Dolphin Tale was released, that number went up to nearly 1 million,” Nowicki said.

The film representatives said most of the lawmakers they lobbyed offered support for the film industry but that “the leadership” would not budge. Graham would not press them to name names, except for Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

raham sought to explore why, at one point concluding that it might just be a distaste for what she called, mockingly, “liberal Hollywood elites.”

“The film industry, I’m passionate about this. And I want to bring this industry, and all different components of it, back to Florida,” Graham said. “And I know what’s going on, and it has been political.”

Gwen Graham applauds as ‘Sisterhood of Gubernatorial Nominees’ grows

With another win, the Sisterhood of Gubernatorial Nominees has grown again.

Tuesday night’s primary victory in Michigan by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer has Gwen Graham smiling broadly in Florida on Wednesday.

Graham and her gubernatorial campaign are making no secret that they are counting on this being a year in which women, particularly on the Democratic side, rise up everywhere. She hailed Whitmer’s win as another signal of that prospect.

“Gretchen Whitmer ran on a positive message and a clear vision for her state’s future. Her victory tonight is another win for women, families and every Democrat who cares about protecting education, expanding health care and creating jobs,” Graham stated in a news release.

In Florida of course, Graham must get past four men in the Aug. 28 primary — which she famously declared to be “Gwen and the men,” — Philip Levine, Jeff Greene, Andrew Gillum, and Chris King. And then there’s the challenge of winning over the Republican in November, either Ron DeSantis or Adam Putnam.

Tuesday night in Michigan, Whitmer defeated two men in the Democratic primary, including progressives’ darling, Abdul El-Sayed.

“With Gretchen as the Democratic nominee,” Graham declared, “Michigan Democrats are going to send another strong woman to the Governor’s office.”

The Center for American Women in Politics, a Rutgers University program, declared in a tweet Wednesday, “Another new record. 2018 has the most women gubernatorial nominees in history. The previous record, first set in 1994, was 10. Gretchen Whitmer and (newly nominated Kansas gubernatorial nominee) Laura Kelly make 11.”

Graham pointed out that she and Whitmer share EMILY’S List backing, and Graham sent out a picture reminding that they are part of a sisterhood of candidates, showing Graham, Whitmer and Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams.

They’re not alone. EMILY’s List also is backing candidates in Oregon, New Hampshire, Kansas, New Mexico, Maine, Minnesota, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin. And there are additional women candidates on ballots in other states.

“There are only two Democratic women governors in our country right now. Through the work that EMILY’s List candidates have done and the energy they have garnered from supporters in their states, we are going to increase that number significantly,” EMILY’s List senior director of campaign communications Julie McClain Downey stated. “These women, including Gwen Graham, are the strongest candidates in their fields. Voters are going to connect with their leadership styles and as a result, we will elect more women governors and end up with better policy outcomes for women and families across this country.”

Jeff Greene pumps another $4.5 million into Governor campaign

Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene has put another $4.5 million behind his bid to be the Democratic nominee for Governor, bringing his total investment to $18.1 million through just two months in the race.

Greene’s new report, which covers July 21 through July 27, is his biggest yet. The South Florida real estate investor seeded his campaign with $3.6 million when he entered the race at the beginning of June, and has kept up with loans ranging from $1 million to $3.5 million after June 22, when statewide candidates had to begin reporting their hauls on a weekly basis.

The cash infusion came alongside $705 in contributions from 25 small-dollar donors chipping in between $5 and $100 apiece. Greene told Florida Politics shortly after entering the race that he would open the campaign up to donors giving $100 or less so that they could participate in his campaign. To date, donors have chipped in $1,355.

Also included in the report was another $4.6 million in spending, including $3.75 million in media buys and numerous bills for other types of advertising, including a $205,300 direct mail campaign through Jacksonville-based Street Smartz Consulting.

In total, Greene had spent $17.83 million from June 1 through July 27, finishing the current reporting period with $272,206 in his campaign account.

That level of self-funding (and spending) puts him squarely in the No. 2 position, money wise. Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine currently leads the Democratic field with $23.75 million in receipts between his campaign and political committee, All About Florida, including $15 million of his own cash.

In the polls, however, it’s former Congresswoman Gwen Graham who leads the five-way primary contest.

The most recent measure, put out by the Associated Industries of Florida, shows her with 35 percent support among primary voters, followed by “not sure” at 23 percent. Levine and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum each showed up at 14 percent while Greene was the pick for 12 percent in that poll, which left out Orlando-area businessman Chris King.

Greene did show much higher support in a public poll released by St. Pete Polls last week. Graham still led the race with 29 percent support in that survey, but Greene came in second place with 23 percent followed by Levine at 19 percent, Gillum at 12 percent and King at 3 percent.

The primary election will be held Aug. 28. The winner of the Democratic nomination will face either U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis or Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam on the November ballot.

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