Have you heard about the Jewish businessman who was born in Boston, grew up in South Florida, built a fortune and now wants to become the state’s next governor?
Chances are good that you have — especially since there are two of them.
As Democratic voters begin to cast mail-in ballots and prepare for early voting in August’s primary elections, Jeff Greene and Philip Levine may be each other’s biggest complication. Despite massive financial advantages that have helped them promote their campaigns in ways that Andrew Gillum, Gwen Graham and Chris King can not, Greene and Levine are pitching platforms and back-stories to voters that are so similar they almost sound like they’re promoting the same candidate.
“Both men have extremely similar profiles — politically experienced, successful business owners who are white, male, Jewish and from South Florida,” Brad Coker, CEO of Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy, noted last week after a poll showed Greene climbing into third place and Levine falling into second behind Graham. “With this overlapping appeal, the two are drawing a combined 30% of voters — slightly more than Graham.”
The Mason-Dixon findings are similar with other recent polls showing that the former Miami Beach mayor appears to have slipped since Greene, a 63-year-old Palm Beach billionaire, entered the race in early June. Once the frontrunner, Levine, who at the age of 56 lists his net worth at $133 million, is now polling alongside or behind Graham.
Levine had built an advantage over the field heading into the summer thanks in part to a habit of criss-crossing the state in a luxury tour bus wrapped in campaign logos and an advertising blitz funded by his own money, which he’s used to match his donors’ contributions. But that was before Greene spent $13 million of his own dollars in seven weeks.
Now, while Levine’s other opponents are either just getting on television or avoiding South Florida’s expensive TV market altogether, Greene is suddenly sharing air time with Levine in Miami and out-spending him around Florida.
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