Hot on the campaign trail for Florida Governor, Philip Levine offers a political truism: Six weeks can be “an eternity.”
Anything can happen.
Firmly in the top-tier of Democratic hopefuls in the race, the former Miami Beach mayor swung through Jacksonville over the weekend, part of a three-city tour of the state.
Saturday afternoon, Levine met with volunteers, canvassers and reporters during a stop at his downtown headquarters.
While Levine’s camp is pushing internal polls showing strength along both the I-4 corridor and south, traction in Jacksonville appears not to be as solid.
Gwen Graham, Levine’s main Democratic opponent, is reaping many of Northeast Florida local endorsements. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum has the rest, as well as drawing the most impassioned crowds on swings through Duval.
Levine, in the campaign headquarters visit, rallied roughly two dozen volunteers and staff with brief remarks. Jacksonville was the third stop of the day.
Northeast Florida is pivotal to the Levine operation, which has 11 field organizers here. Now with 14 offices statewide, Levine was able to say (with some credibility) that his campaign is “literally everywhere” with “sneakers on the ground.”
Nevertheless, while the campaign downplays internal polls of his Northeast Florida performance, it is safe to wonder if Levine is as strong in Northeast Florida as elsewhere.
Talking to Florida Politics, complete with his family in tow, Levine was confident, yet shying away from remarks that other camps would consider bulletin-board material.
“From what we see, we’re doing well across the state of Florida,” Levine said. “This is a very competitive primary. I believe it will be a competitive general election. What do we have, six weeks to go? We are running hard, going to every county, every town.”
When asked if his campaign was the front-runner, Levine was diplomatic.
“So they say,” he replied. “We take nothing for granted. We have to fight every day. Things are always going to be competitive in a race like this.”
A reporter also inquired about the entry of Jeff Greene, the billionaire from Palm Beach, and if it was especially dragging on Levine’s momentum.
“What I think it does,” Levine said, “is truly makes it more competitive for everybody … gives a greater selection.”
“People get to look at your strengths, see what’s right for them and what’s not,” he added. “We’re obviously very different, all five of us.”
Levine also appraised the candidacy of Andrew Gillum, in light of his “victory” in the George Soros/Tom Steyer primary.
On Gillum as a leading candidate, Levine again took a diplomatic tack: “I think everybody in this race is a top-tier candidate. I say it everywhere I go: if any of us become governor on the Democratic side, the state’s in a better place than it is today.”
“Six weeks is an eternity in politics,” Levine quipped.
This cycle, that has proved to be the case, as seemingly inevitable front-runners early in the governor’s race (from both parties) return to the pack as the home stretch to the Aug. 28 primary begins.