MIAMI, FL – The bid to put a Democrat in the Florida governor’s office just got a lot more interesting.
On Friday, June 1, Miami real estate tycoon Jeff Greene quietly filed his paperwork with the Florida Division of Elections to run for Florida governor on the Democratic ticket. He is the seventh Democrat to declare his intention to run for the office being vacated by Gov. Rick Scott due to term limits.
Greene caught the media off guard, making no announcement and giving no interviews after filing his paperwork and setting up his campaign finance account.
Greene, 63, is a billionaire real estate developer who ran an unsuccessful race for the U.S. Senate in 2010.
There were a few hints that Greene was considering running for office again. Last month, he put out feelers through a voting poll. Among the questions pollsters asked was how voters perceive the fact that Greene ran for Congress in California as a Republican in 1982. Voters were also asked their thoughts about Greene once supporting Trump and maintaining his membership at Trump’s Palm Beach Mar-a-Lago golf club.
Greene entered the race just 21 days before the filing period ends on June 22. The Primary is Aug. 28.
Pundits say Greene has one major advantage over his Democratic opponents. According to Forbes, Greene’s net worth is $3.8 billion, and he’s already demonstrated a willingness to use his own funds to run for office. In 2010, he spent nearly $24 million in his bid for the U.S. Senate.
The current Democratic front runners in the race for governor are former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, Orlando businessman Chris King, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.
Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy has expressed an interest in running as well but hasn’t filed.
To date, Graham’s campaign has raised $4,355,238; Gillum $2,108,038; Levine $7,356,676; and King, $3,788,012.
All four Democratic candidates for governor have accepted invitations to attend a debate Saturday, June 9, organized by Indivisible FL-13, Women’s March Florida and Fired Up Pinellas. The organizers have extended an invitation to Murphy to participate in the debate if he files to run this week. There’s been no word on whether Greene will participate.
The debate will take place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Pinellas Park High School auditorium, 6305 118th Ave N, Largo.
Democratic gubernatorial debates are also scheduled for June 11 in Miramar and July 8 in Ft. Meyers.
On the Republican side, Fox News and the Republican Party of Florida are partnering for a June 28 debate in Kissimmee.
In addition, the Children’s Movement of Florida and the Florida Press Association announced they will hold televised Republican and Democratic primary debates for the 2018 governor’s race on Aug. 1 and 2 at the University of Miami.
To date, 27 candidates have filed to run for governor including 12 Republicans, seven Democrats, three candidates with no party affiliation, one Green Party candidate and two members of the Libertarian Party of Florida.
A Democratic candidate has not won a gubernatorial election in Florida since 1994 when Gov. Lawton Chiles was elected to a second term. However, political prognosticators say Florida’s voter demographics may take a turn in favor of Democrats this election year due to Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico in September 2017, prompting nearly 100,000 Puerto Ricans to relocate to Florida.
Additionally, the Parkland school shootings could attract a new generation of liberal Florida voters. So far, there hasn’t been a marked increase in voter registrations in Florida by those between the ages of 18 and 21. However, March For Our Lives organizers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School announced Tuesday that they are launching a national bus campaign to register young adult voters. They plan to visit all of Florida’s congressional districts.
As of April 30, there are 4,555,773 registered Republicans in Florida, 4,798,973 registered Democrats and 3,482,707 with no party affiliation, according to the Florida Division of Elections.
Video via Youtube of Greene’s 2010 race for the U.S. Senate