December 05, 2018

Democrats will visit Miami-Dade during Art Basel to assess 2020 convention bid


@Kyra Gurney

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez is visiting Miami-Dade on Friday to evaluate the county’s bid to host the 2020 national convention, a trip timed to coincide with Art Basel.

Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, co-chair of the local host committee created to raise money for the convention, said the bidding team wants Perez to see Miami and Miami Beach at one of the busiest times of the year.

“He’s going to actually see the city function during a huge international week-long event,” said Levine, a Democrat who ran in Florida’s gubernatorial primary this year.

The committee hopes to show off the planning and coordination that has gone into hosting thousands of visitors during Art Week — including shuttling art enthusiasts on trolleys from Wynwood to South Beach and a joint policing effort across municipal boundaries. Proving that there is strong collaboration among multiple local governments is key, Levine said.

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August 06, 2018

Two Parkland families are backing Philip Levine on TV



Fred Guttenberg and Manuel and Patricia Oliver, the parents of two children killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, are behind Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine's gubernatorial bid. 

Guttenberg and the Olivers, who have traveled around the country promoting increased gun control measures since the Valentine's Day shooting, both cut TV commercials for Levine's campaign that will go on the air tomorrow in the Miami-Dade and West Palm media markets as part of a six-figure ad buy according to Levine's campaign. 

"I am proud to announce my support of Philip Levine for Governor of Florida," Guttenberg tweeted. "I believe firmly that he will strongly support and reinforce the legislation passed after Parkland. ." 

Levine is trying to emerge victorious in a five-way primary later this month that includes former Rep. Gwen Graham, Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum, real estate developer Jeff Greene and businessman Chris King.

"I really believe that Philip is a doer, he can show it, he's part of that team that we're looking for," Manuel said in the ad where he appears beside his wife Patricia. 

Guttenberg in particular gained a national profile after he confronted Sen. Marco Rubio at a televised town hall two weeks after the shooting. He's since appeared at events and protests around the country, arguing that Republicans in Congress aren't doing enough to prevent future mass shootings. 

"Levine's a doer, not a talker," Guttenberg said in his ad.

Watch both ads below: 


May 24, 2018

The Republican Governors Association has a target in Florida: Gwen Graham

Screen Shot 2018-05-23 at 11.23.01 AM_1
A screenshot of the Republican Governors Association website from Wednesday, May 23, 2018.

If there is a candidate for Florida Governor that the Republican Governors Association doesn't seem to like, it's Gwen Graham.

Nine of the association's latest news releases from Florida take aim at the the former Congresswoman, who is considered a front-runner but slightly behind in polls to former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine.

The releases, all in the month of May, have the typical headlines you'd expect from members of the opposite party, calling Graham "desperate" or "phony" or having been "caught misleading voters." 

The association, whose stated purpose is "electing and supporting Republican governors," apparently has someone surreptitiously recording the candidate. Its latest release features a video by someone secretly recording while asking Graham a question about taxes at a campaign event.

The RGA hasn't focused solely on Graham, though. The last time they did a press release that targeted another candidate was back in March, when they did a post mentioning that Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum is "catching fire" among Democrats. (They previously noted that Gillum is "surging" among Democrats.)

Why the focus on Graham? The RGA didn't respond to a request for comment. The current chairman of the RGA is Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam. Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who is running for senate, was vice chairman of the organization last year.

As for Graham's camp, they're brushing it off:

"Focusing so many of their attacks on Democrat Gwen Graham, seems like 'R.G.A.' really stands for 'Republican Graham Anxiety,'" Graham campaign manager Julia Woodward said in a statement. "The Republican Governor’s Association fears 20 years of one-party rule is coming to an end in Florida, and they clearly know Gwen is the one who’s going to end the Republican lock on the governor’s office in November."

May 07, 2018

Gwen Graham opens campaign headquarters in Orlando

Gwen Graham 10 EKM
Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham stands with supporters for a photo after she announced that she is running for governor at a park in Miami Gardens in 2017.

Democratic candidate for governor Gwen Graham opened up her campaign headquarters in Orlando on Saturday.

"I’m so excited to officially be a resident of Orlando," Graham said. "Central Florida is at the heart of our 67-county strategy."

Graham, who has lived in Tallahassee for the last three decades, is the second Democratic candidate for governor to open up shop in Orlando. The headquarters for Chris King, who lives in nearby Winter Park, are just up the street.

But why move to Orlando?

For one, the location makes geographic sense. Tallahassee is so far away from the state's major cities that some lawmakers want to move the state's capital to Orlando.

But it's also at the heart of the Interstate 4 corridor, the stretch of swing voters between St. Petersburg and Daytona Beach that would be critical for winning a general election.

The Times' Adam C. Smith explained the area's importance this way in this great 2016 piece:

"The basic political math for winning statewide races has been consistent for decades: Republicans rack up votes in conservative north and Southwest Florida; Democrats clean up in the population centers of South Florida; and the two sides battle it out in the high-growth areas along I-4."

Graham, a former congresswoman and daughter of former governor and Senator Bob Graham, is considered one of the frontrunners on the Democratic side.

Her other two primary opponents have decided to set up shop closer to home.

Andrew Gillum's headquarters are in Tallahassee, where he's mayor. And Democrat Philip Levine's base is in Miami Beach, where he was mayor until last year.

April 16, 2018

Philip Levine, Gwen Graham say Trump should be impeached if he fires Mueller (Updated)



Florida governor hopeful and former Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine joined the Democratic pile-on of Donald Trump on Monday, calling for the president's impeachment if he fires special counsel Robert Mueller

"As Donald Trump heads to Miami today, we need to send a clear message that his efforts to obstruct the Mueller investigation from continuing will be met with full force from Floridians," Levine advisor Christian Ulvert said in a fundraising email. "The GOP-controlled Congress likely won't do it and we need Democratic Governors in states like Florida to stand up to the D.C. insiders." 

Levine's stance on potential impeachment for Trump puts him between the two other Democrats running in the primary. Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum called for Trump's immediate impeachment last year while former Rep. Gwen Graham called Trump a bully in a digital ad released earlier this month, though she stopped short of calling for impeachment at the time. 

Calling for Trump's impeachment could energize the base in contested Democratic primaries around the country, though an attempt to impeach Trump late last year garnered just 58 votes in the 435 member House of Representatives. 

UPDATE 4:50pm: Graham also said Trump should be impeached if he fires Mueller. 

"The House should start impeachment proceedings within 60 seconds of Trump firing Mueller," Graham said in an email.

November 20, 2017

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


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


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


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


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.