November 20, 2017

Levine unveils another TV ad, this one in Spanish and on Puerto Rico

@PatriciaMazzei

Another week, another ad for Philip Levine -- this time on helping Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria.

The bilingual ad for the 2018 candidate for Florida governor features bits of his campaign launch speech in which he noted he delivered supplies to San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz after the storm.

"The people of Puerto Rico needed help, and Philip Levine took action," the narrator begins.

Paying for the spot is Levine's political committee, All About Florida, which did not say how big the ad buy will be. It will air for five weeks in "select markets," the committee said.

The committee has already put up an introductory TV ad, also pulling from Levine's speech, and a Spanish-language radio ad plugging Obamacare.

November 16, 2017

The early race for Florida governor: Levine goes up on TV

@PatriciaMazzei

Philip Levine will hit TV airwaves beginning Thursday to tout his young 2018 candidacy for Florida governor.

The 30-second spot, titled "Lead," features snippets of the speech Levine gave in Miami two weeks ago launching his campaign.

"It's time," the former Miami Beach mayor says in the ad, "to address climate change by addressing Tallahassee's climate of denial. It's time to restore power back to the level where people live, instead of Tallahassee, where politicians live. It's time to make a day's pay enough to avoid a lifetime of dread. Why a living wave? Because it's the right thing to do."

Levine's political committee, All About Florida, has purchased $800,000 in five weeks' worth of ads "in media markets across the state of Florida," senior adviser Christian Ulvert said in a statement.

Last week, Levine's committee put out an inaugural ad, on radio, urging listeners to sign up for Obamacare, which has become a key issue for Democratic primary voters.

November 09, 2017

Levine touts fundraising in month before entering Florida governor's race

@PatriciaMazzei

Philip Levine, the newest entrant into Florida's Democratic race for governor, collected more than $1 million for his political committee in October, according to his campaign.

Levine, a multi-millionaire who formally launched his candidacy last week, raised a little less than $900,000 and donated a little more than $100,000 to his All About Florida committee, his campaign said Thursday, touting his total haul so far: about $5.8 million. 

None of the candidates' monthly financial reports, either for their campaign or committee accounts, have yet to be posted by to the Florida Division of Elections' website, because they're not due until Monday. Levine didn't have a campaign account yet because he wasn't officially in the race.

"In the year ahead -- as more Floridians learn about Philip and his progressive vision for our state -- we believe voters will continue to provide us with the necessary resources to take our message to every corner of the state, from the Panhandle down to the Keys," Christian Ulvert, a Levine senior adviser, said in a statement.

The only other Democratic candidate who has announced his October fundraising, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, said Tuesday that he drew about $80,000. Gillum brought in a new finance director last month after losing his campaign manager and deputy campaign manager. Gillum's fundraising languished over the summer after an FBI investigation into City Hall became public.

"With under one year until Election Day 2018, Mayor Gillum and our entire team around the state are thrilled about our grassroots fundraising momentum," Gillum's campaign said in a statement. "Everyday Floridians are giving us the resources we need to communicate with our voters through the primary and general election next fall, and we're excited for the road ahead."

Gillum, who has said he's not the target of the investigation, took in a single contribution in October, for $2,500, to his Forward Florida committee, according to its website.

Last month, former Tallahassee Rep. Gwen Graham brought in more than $180,000 for her campaign and about $165,000 for her committee, Our Florida, her campaign said Thursday, bringing her total raised thus far to more than $4 million.

"From Pensacola to Key West, Floridians are fed up with Trump-style politics and they are engaged like never before," Graham said in a statement that added she has received contributions from more than 10,000 individuals, a "milestone." "Our campaign is building a coalition of Floridians from every part of this state and every community. That's how we won in 2014 and that's how we're going to turn Florida blue in 2018."

Orlando entrepreneur Chris King's campaign said it raised nearly $152,000 in October. His committee, Rise and Lead, Florida, raked in about $55,000 during the month, for a total of about $2.7 million since launching the campaign. The committee has about $1.6 million cash on hand, the campaign said.

This post has been updated to include Graham's and King's campaign fundraising.

October 10, 2017

Levine hires political fundraiser ahead of possible Florida gubernatorial bid

@PatriciaMazzei

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine has hired a political fundraiser, a significant step in his potential 2018 bid for Florida governor.

Levine's political committee, All About Florida, announced the hiring Tuesday morning of Courtney Whitney, a Democratic fundraiser who has worked for Weston Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and former Miami Rep. Joe Garcia. The committee has already collected nearly $4.8 million since its formation in February, including about $2.6 million from Levine himself.

"Mayor Levine possesses a unique entrepreneurial background, with a robust network of international business leaders," Whitney said in a statement. "This won't be a traditional fundraising operation, and I am thrilled to be a part of the team at All About Florida for this one-of-a-kind opportunity."

Levine's team includes Christian Ulvert, fresh off state Sen. Annette Taddeo's special-election victory last month, and Matthew Van Name, former campaign manager for St. Petersburg Rep. Charlie Crist.

Were Levine to jump into the Democratic primary -- a decision he intends to announce in November -- he'd have already outraised Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former Tallahassee Rep. Gwen Graham and Winter Park entrepreneur Chris King. Orlando atrial attorney John Morgan, another potential Democratic candidate, recently had a friendly meeting with Levine and posted about it on Twitter.

Last month, Levine traveled to Puerto Rico to deliver Hurricane Maria relief supplies to San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz -- and took the opportunity to criticize President Donald Trump on national television for a slow response to storm's devastation.

August 03, 2017

When it rains in Miami, the politicians pour it on

MF 01 MHD SBB@joeflech & @NewsbySmiley

What's a torrential downpour in Miami, replete with serious flooding in Brickell and South Beach, without a little politics? On Wednesday, the mayors of Miami and Miami Beach wasted no time in using Tuesday's floods as a call to action in the face of impending sea rise spurred by climate change.

In Miami Beach, pumps in Sunset Harbour lost power for about 50 minutes during the storm — enough to cause flooding in several neighborhood businesses. Mayor Philip Levine, a potential 2018 gubernatorial candidate who has made anti-flooding projects a priority during his four-year tenure, immediately demanded the city expedite its normal procurement process to quickly get backup generators installed at the Sunset Harbour pumps.

But the mayor forgot that more than a year ago, an engineer who helped develop the city's philosophy on stormwater drainage warned him, the rest of the commission and high-level city staff that they ought to put permanent generators at each pump station in case a storm knocks out the power.

Engineer Dwight Kraai sent the commission and top Beach officials an email in May 2016 advising that the city consider backup generators to prevent precisely what happened Tuesday.

Meanwhile, in Miami, Tomas Regalado called a press conference to launch a campaign for a $400 million general obligation bond, nearly half of which would to go toward flooding and sea rise projects. Only in his last year in office has the mayor placed an emphasis on flood prevention and sea rise, even though Miami leaders knew five years ago that the city needs at least a quarter-billion in drainage improvements.

Regalado defended his recent attention to sea-rise and drainage, noting that 11 pumps have been built during his tenure and his administration hasn't had the money to fund anti-flooding projects without raising taxes.

Read more.

May 19, 2017

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine open to running as independent for Florida governor

Levinetigerbay

via @adamsmithtimes

Maybe multimillionaire Miami Beach businessman Philip Levine was just trying to be provocative, earn a little extra attention as he mulls a run for governor. Maybe he was just spitballing an unlikely idea before the Tampa Tiger Bay luncheon Friday. But the Miami Beach Mayor and close friend of Bill Clinton said he is keeping the door wide open to running for governor as an independent candidate.

"There's one assumption that you made there - that somehow if I ran for governor I would be a Democratic governor," Levine, a Democrat, responded when asked how he would work with a GOP-dominated Legislature. "Too much is about Democrat and Republican. It needs to be about the people. ... Maybe possibly it's time we do something different."

Levine has been one of the biggest Democratic fundraisers and donors in the state, but he describes himself as a "radical centrist" and noted that successful mayors usually don't govern based on partisanship but on getting things done.

"I'm a Democrat right now, and I hope that I stay in the Democratic Party. I love the Democratic Party. But you know what's interesting? I actually like the Republican Party, and I like a lot of Republican ideas, and I like a lot of the people in the Republican party as well. I think that's where we need to go as a country - and start in a state like Florida and make that decision that we're going to change and do it the right way," said Levine, 55, who is worth at least $100 million earned largely as a cruise industry concessionaire.

He has invested $2 million in a political committee to fund his exploration into a possible run for governor, but said he has not made up his mind yet and is in no rush. Other Democrats actively campaigning are Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee and Winter Park businessman Chris King.

The best experience for governing, Levine told the Tampa crowd, is no experience governing. Both parties claim to be the parties of working people and job creation but too often field candidates who have never created jobs or barely worked in the private sector. It was a clear dig at Gillum, Graham, and Republican candidate Adam Putnam, the agriculture commissioner.

His top priority would be improving Florida's economy, and he derided Gov. Rick Scott's emphasis on big tax breaks to lure corporations.

What will bring top-tier companies to Florida is creating "a culture and an ecosystem where they want to relocate, where their workers want to be around. It means unbelievable infrastructure, it means connecting our cities, it means making sure you have fresh water. ... NASA to us is our Silicon Valley and it hasn't been exploited to the level it really can be," Levine said.

"We should have innovation zones. Our universities must be the best. You make a decision -- do you want to invest in the state or do you want to cut everyone's taxes?. You can cut everyone's taxes, that's a great short-term solution and people will vote for you. ... I travel all over the world, all over the country. I have never had anyone say to me, 'We were thinking of coming to Florida, but it's a high tax state.' I've heard them say that your schools aren't as good as they could be."

Pressed after the luncheon if he is seriously considering running without party affiliation or considering even running as a Republican (a senior campaign adviser is Republican Adam Goodman of St. Petersburg), Levine said he has not decided.

"I'm keeping every door open right now, but I'm running as an American and I'm running as a Floridian and I'm running as someone who I believe has a good message for the times, which is not about being left and not about being right. It's about being in the center and being a Floridian, taking care of everybody and creating better and better opportunities for our state," Levine said. "I don't know if that's being Republican or Democrat, and as I go through my journey I'm going to figure that out."

Running as nonpartisan candidate would present enormous challenges, considering that more than 73 percent of the state is a registered Democrat or Republican and unaffiliated voters tend to be the most unreliable voters to turn out. The last major statewide candidate to run without party affiliation, former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, received less than 30 percent of the vote in 2010 running for U.S. Senate against Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Kendrick Meek.