Jeff Greene draws curious elected officials, notes his ‘crazy amount of wealth’ at Palm Beach event

Democratic candidate for governor Jeff Greene, left, talks to Riviera Beach Mayor Thomas Masters and Masters’ sister, Cora Masters Barry, at Greene’s Tideline Ocean Resort & Spa on Wwednesday night. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

PALM BEACH — About 100 people showed up Wednesday evening at Jeff Greene‘s Tideline Ocean Resort and Spa for a meet-and-greet event with Greene, the billionaire real estate investor making a lavishly self-financed Democratic bid for governor.

Whether or not he wins the Democratic nomination for governor, Jeff Greene has clinched the catering primary with Wednesday night offerings that included shrimp, lobster, bruschetta and beef kebabs. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Attendees included Democratic Palm Beach County Commissioners Paulette Burdick, who said she’s looking for a candidate to support, and Mack Bernard, who’s backing Andrew Gillum for governor but wanted to check out Greene. Riviera Beach Mayor Thomas Masters was there in a listening mode as well.

Also attending — but not necessarily endorsing — were Palm Beach Town Councilman Lew Crampton, South Palm Beach Mayor Bonnie Fischer, South Palm Beach Town Councilwoman Stella Jordan and former West Palm Beach City Commissioner Shanon Materio.

“I’m watching and I’m listening. I need someone that I can support to be our next governor in the state of Florida. It’s vitally important that we elect a Democrat,”said Burdick, who said she was “impressed” by Greene’s detailed response to her question about a state affordable housing trust fund.

A Florida Atlantic University poll released Wednesday afternoon shows Greene, who entered the race last month, within striking distance of Democratic leaders Gwen Graham and Philip Levine as the Aug. 28 primary approaches.

Greene and his four Democratic primary foes share similar liberal stances on education, the environment, gun control, abortion rights and other issues. But Greene, who has already poured more than $10 million of his own money into his campaign and launching a new $3.2 million TV ad blitz today, told the crowd his wealth can lift Democrats from their two-decade losing streak in governor’s races and help other Democrats on the ballot.

“I’ve been blessed with this crazy amount of wealth that I could never spend. We’re planning on giving it away to make a difference in people’s lives but can you imagine the difference I could make by being the first governor in 20 years in the state of Florida from the Democratic Party?” Greene told the crowd.

Fielding audience questions, Greene was asked how he’d work with the Republican-controlled Legislature if he’s elected. He didn’t concede that the GOP will keep the Senate, where it has a 23-16 advantage now.

“We have five Senate races that are winnable. I’ve met them all,” said Greene, who said he’s ready to give financial help to down-ballot candidates if he’s the party nominee.

Jeff Greene says he’ll open his checkbook for other Democrats if he’s the party’s nominee for governor. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

“You can’t win an election if you have both your arms tied behind your back in a fight. And I think this time, thanks to my good fortune, I have the ability to go toe-to-toe, and I intend to do it, with these Republicans,” Greene said.

If Democrats can win the state Senate, Greene added, “maybe then some of those unreasonable folks on the other side of the aisle in the House will think, ‘You know, let’s not mess with Jeff Greene, let’s not mess with this new Democratic governor.'”

West Palm Beach Democratic Club President Jim Gibbs, emphasizing that he was speaking personally and not as a party official, said he’s supporting Greene because of his deep pockets.

“I think that he has the one weapon the Democrats have been missing for winning statewide races. I think that all five candidates are the same for the issues. We get to 49 percent, 49.5 percent and lose because we can’t match the Republicans with money,” Gibbs said in an interview.

“Florida’s a Democratic state and we lose because we don’t get out the vote. So I think his money is the difference between victory and defeat. I hate to be so Macchiavellian about it….We’ve got to win,” Gibbs said.

 

 

 

 

 

Apologize for Trump remarks, county GOP chairman urges Burdick

Palm Beach County Mayor Paulette Burdick told a Japanese business group not to let President Donald Trump “offend” them.

Palm Beach County Republican Chairman Michael Barnett says Palm Beach County Mayor Paulette Burdick should apologize for criticizing President Donald Trump to a group of visiting Japanese aviation business officials on Thursday.

“My president of the United States does not represent my values and my beliefs,” Democrat Burdick told the group. “Please do not let him offend you.”

Barnett sent a letter to Burdick today.

“Your comments referencing the President were inappropriate, unbecoming of your office, and judging by the response you got as reported by the Post, not well received. Remember, Mayor Burdick, that you were elected to serve all of Palm Beach County, not merely your Democratic base,” Barnett wrote. “You owe us, your constituents, and the President an apology,” Barnett concluded.

 

 

Burdick wasn’t immediately available for comment this afternoon.

State Rep. Lori Berman ponders Palm Beach County commission bid

State Rep. Lori Berman, D-Lantana, in the Capitol today.

TALLAHASSEE — State Rep. Lori Berman, D-Lantana, says she’s “very seriously considering” a 2018 run for the seat of term-limited Palm Beach County Commissioner Paulette Burdick.

 

Palm Beach County Commission districts.

Berman said she’ll make a decision after the current state legislative session ends. That was supposed to be Friday, but lawmakers are now scheduled to finish their work next week.

 

If she decides to run, Berman said she would move into commission District 2, which includes parts of West Palm Beach and Greenacres.

 

Voters in commission District 2 are 47 percent Democratic and 23 percent Republican. Roughly one-quarter of District 2 voters are in Berman’s state House District 90.

 

Another Democrat, Sylvia Sharps of Royal Palm Beach, opened a campaign for the seat last month.

 

Berman faces term limits next year in the state House.

Melissa McKinlay begins fundraising for 2018 commission re-election bid

Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay on election night in 2014 (Bill Ingram/The Palm Beach Post)

Democratic Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, who quietly opened a re-election campaign for her western-county District 6 seat earlier this month, has begun hitting up supporters for campaign cash.

 

She’s the first commission candidate to open a 2018 campaign. McKinlay’s seat and two others will be on the ballot next year. District 2 Commissioner Paulette Burdick and District 4 Commissioner Steven Abrams face term limits in 2018.

 

McKinlay was elected to the commission in 2014. In 2015, she opened a campaign for Congress — then pulled out of the race after deep-pocketed businessman Randy Perkins got in. Perkins won the Democratic nomination but lost to Republican Brian Mast.

 

A McKinlay fundraising email says she hopes to raise $38,000 by April 30. The election is more than 19 months away, but, her email says, “this is an important time to show potential challengers that we are up to the task – and that you are on my side.”