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Levine hires political fundraiser ahead of possible Florida gubernatorial bid


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.