Tampa Bay Times: “Florida’s Democratic primary for governor is now Philip Levine’s to lose”

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We used to refer to Gwen Graham as the frontrunner or nominal frontrunner for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Lately we have taken to describing the primary as a wide open race.

Now, it’s much more appropriate to say Philip Levine is the overwhelming frontrunner.

Part two of a statewide poll by respected Democratic pollster Tom Eldon shows the wealthy businessman from Miami Beach with support from 32 percent of likely Democratic primary voters, with his closest rival, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee, 16 percentage points behind with 16 percent support.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum drew 11 percent in the June 3-7 survey, Winter Park businessman Chris King 6 percent, and newly announced candidate Jeff Greene, a Palm Beach billionaire who ran for U.S. Senate in 2010, had 3 percent.

Yes, it’s way to early to declare the race over, but Levine appears to have Rick Scott-like money and a willingness to spend whatever it takes. He has already spent about $7 million on TV ads, and none of his opponents so far has anywhere near the resources required not only to build their own support but to pull down Levine’s with negative ads.

“It’s far too early to say anybody has anything locked up, but you can see how Levine is putting the blocks in place to do so,” said Eldon, noting that Graham clearly is Levine’s most formidable challenger so far.

Eldon said the poll was conducted for a Miami-based client who had no affiliation with any of the candidates.

The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points and found Levine leading Graham in Tampa Bay, 37 percent to 20 percent, in southeast Florida 47 percent to 13 percent. No one was dominating in the Orlando area (Gillum 19 percent, Levine 18, Graham 12, King 11, Greene 2).  In north Florida, Levine and Graham were tied with 24 and percent respectively, followed by 11 percent for Gillum, 10 percent for King, 4 percent for Greene.

“Statewide, 56% of Democrats are paying ‘much more attention’ to political and national news since the election of Donald Trump. Of those voters, 36% were voting for Philip Levine with Gwen Graham second at 15% and 26% undecided,” Eldon wrote in a memo.

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