Sun Sentinel: “Philip Levine: Hard-charging Democratic candidate for governor”

 In News & Updates

Philip Levine followed a carefully crafted strategy to introduce himself to the state’s voters.

He traveled the state for months before formally announcing his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for governor, and advertised early and often.

It worked, giving Levine top tier status for most of 2018.

Then billionaire Jeff Greene entered the race, with the ability to spend even more on TV ads, and the contest became a dogfight.

But, as someone who’s described himself as a “radical centrist,” he bills himself as a problem solver, not an ideologue. When he announced his candidacy, he never mentioned “Democrat” or “Democratic,” in his speech.

“What people want are politicians that don’t talk about what they’re going to do. They want leaders that have actually done things,” he says. “What I bring is the authenticity of someone who has actually done the things I said I’d do.”

Background: Levine’s family moved to South Florida when he was 10, and he grew up in Hollywood, where he attended Attucks Middle School and Hollywood High School. He became wealthy by building a company that provides media services to the cruise industry.

In 2013, he was elected to the first of two terms as mayor of Miami Beach, where he pushed hard to deal with problems such as sea-level rise.

Highlights: Levine says he has a better combination of skills for the job of governor than the other Democrats, owing to his business career and time in elective office.

If elected, Levine, 56, would be Florida’s first Jewish governor.

Danger zone: Levine has a history of showing flashes of anger. During his campaign for governor, he’s sought to turn that negative reputation into a virtue, describing himself as passionate, can-do problem solver who will be able to barrel through roadblocks to get things done if he’s elected.

Some Democrats are skeptical of his bona fides, with opponents pointing to a campaign contribution he gave in 2009 to Marco Rubio, now the state’s Republican U.S. senator.

Still, he touts the anti-President Donald Trump lines required of all Democratic candidates. “If I’m governor, I will stand up to Donald Trump like I have in the past. I’m not just talking about it, I’ve done it.” And he was a prominent surrogate for Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful 2016 presidential campaign.

Endorsements: Levine has been endorsed by Patricia and Manuel Oliver and Fred Guttenberg, parents of two of the students killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre; former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal; hip hop star and community activist Luther Campbell; multiple mayors, including Josh Levy of Hollywood, Gary Resnick of Wilton Manors and Carmen Yulín Cruz of San Juan, P.R.; state Sen. Kevin Rader; former Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl, former Broward Democratic Chairman Mitch Ceasar, and Deerfield Beach Commissioner Bernie Parness.

Money: Levine’s campaign has raised about $4.2 million in contributions and in-kind donations. In addition, he’s put more than $12.2 million of his own money into the campaign as of July 27. The All About Florida political committee affiliated with Levine, has raised $9.3 million, including $2.8 million of his own money. Levine reported a net worth of $133 million on a financial disclosure filed with the state in June.

Did you know? In formal settings, such as televised debates, Levine wears the male politician’s standard uniform: a suit and tie. Otherwise, he’s often in jeans and sneakers. For his formal announcement entering the race for governor, he wore a pair of Adidas NMD R1 Primeknits.

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