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Fading in polls, Jeff Greene pulls remaining TV ads

Where is Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jeff Greene these last few days before Tuesday’s primary election? Not on TV. Not out in public.

The Palm Beach businessman who barreled into the race in early June and became omnipresent on TV through much of the summer is stepping out of the spotlight for the final push, his campaign is saying. Greene’s campaign is essentially going dark with six days left before the end of primary voting, putting energy into “grassroots” efforts.

He is focusing on mobilizing his organization for get-out-the-vote efforts and to get paid staffers and volunteers to lead the way with more intimate messaging on his behalf, while pulling campaign ads and limiting public appearances, according to a campaign spokesman.

Greene is running fourth in most polls, well back of the Democratic gubernatorial campaign leaders Philip Levine and Gwen Graham. But there will be no desperate, last-minute mass appeal to Florida Democrats.

Greene has spent more than $29 million, most of it on TV commercials and mailers, in the two months ending with the latest campaign finance reports, Aug. 10. But those are gone for the last few days.

“We’ve gotten our message out big with TV ad buys at a time when audiences were paying attention — and we’ve stayed in touch with voters and supporters. The last week of the campaign, the airwaves are flooded with political ads and no one is paying active attention,” his campaign spokeswoman Claire VanSusteren told Florida Politics in a written response to an inquiry about what’s going on.

“Jeff Greene has shifted his focus to ground game and get out the vote efforts in communities across Florida. The Jeff Greene campaign has volunteers and community organizers statewide, 100 paid phone bankers, well over 400 paid canvassers, and field offices in Gainesville, Orlando, Sanford, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and several offices in Miami,” she continued. “Others may choose to go big on already over-saturated airwaves, but you don’t become a billionaire by being conventional.

“Jeff Greene is still campaigning to win and focusing on getting his voters to the polls,” she continued.

As she said, it’s not conventional. Levine, Graham, Andrew Gillum, and Chris King are continuing to campaign with multi-stop days set into bus tours, with rallies, meetings with outside groups, a Jimmy Buffett campaign concert [for Graham], workdays, and other public appearances scheduled well into the weekend.

They’re not saying much about Greene’s strategy, perhaps except for the campaign of King, who’s the only Democrat trailing Greene in most polls.

“Chris is leaving it all out on the field and working his tail off in these final days,” said his campaign spokesperson Caitlin Lang, “barnstorming across the state on his ‘Fearless for Florida’ bus tour and bringing his closing message of racial justice and fighting institutional racism to more than 25 counties over the last two weeks.”

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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