Political differences bring a pair of billionaire Palm Beach neighbors to Tampa

President-elect Donald Trump and billionaire Jeff Greene from a video clip that Greene says was a heated December 2016 conversation about Greene’s support for Hillary Clinton.

President Donald Trump will be in Tampa later today to visit a technical high school and then hold a political rally with his chosen candidate for governor, Ron DeSantis.

Democrat Jeff Greene’s campaign bus features a “Trump’s Worst Nightmare” slogan.

DeSantis’ rise in Republican primary polls show the power of Trump in a GOP primary.

But Trump is also a factor in Florida’s Democratic primary for governor — particularly for his Palm Beach neighbor, fellow billionaire and dues-paying Mar-a-Lago Club member, Jeff Greene.

Greene, who has made his pledge to “stand up to Trump” a centerpiece of his Democratic bid for governor, plans to hold a “Stand Up To Trump” event in a designated protest space at the Florida State Fairgrounds where Trump will appear.

Greene planned to arrive in Tampa Monday night as part of a statewide bus tour. Greene’s bus includes the slogan “Trump’s Worst Nightmare.”


Lois Frankel defends Gwen Graham, hits Andrew Gillum on super PAC ads

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, has not made a formal endorsement in Florida’s five-Democrat primary for governor.

But Frankel has issued a statement through former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham‘s campaign defending Graham against attacks by a super PAC that supports Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in the primary. Frankel weighed in after The Collective Super PAC  announced it will spend nearly $500,000 on TV ads that criticize Graham’s votes during her term in Congress from 2015 to 2017.

“In Washington, I’m fighting to end Citizens United and the use of secret money in campaigns,” said Frankel. “It’s extremely disappointing that any of the Democrats running for governor would undermine this fight by accepting secret contributions and encouraging their allies to attack a fellow Democrat with secret ads.”

The Collective Super PAC has already spent more than $1.2 million in support of Gillum, the only black candidate and only non-millionaire in the race. The super PAC’s largest donor is an affiliated 501(c)(4) group, The Collective Future, which isn’t required to reveal its individual contriibutors.

Polls last week by Florida Atlantic University and Mason-Dixon showed Graham leading the Democratic field and Gillum in fourth or fifth place.

The Collective said last week that its new ad “focuses on one of Gillum’s primary opponents, who continues to tout progressive credentials despite voting with banks, supporting the disastrous Keystone XL pipeline, and publicly undermining President Obama’s Affordable Care Act to get reelected.”

Graham voted to loosen some financial restrictions in the Dodd-Frank bill and supported the Keystone XL pipeline. She generally backed President Barack Obama and Democratic leadership on the Affordable Care Act, but voted in 2015 for a bill to reduce the scope of Obamacare’s employer mandate by making it apply to 40-hour-a-week employees rather than 30-hour-a-week employees.

Frankel differed with Graham on the three votes highlighted by The Collective, but defended Graham.

“I served with Gwen Graham in Congress. She voted with Democrats to save the Affordable Care Act from Republican attacks. Gwen defended President Obama’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from Wall Street’s attacks. And she rallied the Florida delegation to protect our environment from polluters’ attacks. Anyone attacking her today is not doing so in the best interest of Democrats or our state,” Frankel said.



VIDEO: Protesters interrupt Gov. Scott, Republican forum in Sarasota

Florida Gov. Rick Scott
Florida Gov. Rick Scott (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Protesters were escorted by police from a Republican forum on Florida’s Gulf Coast several times during speeches by candidates, including Gov. Rick Scott.

Spectrum Bay News 9 reported that the protesters interrupted speeches several times Friday at the Robarts Arena in Sarasota.

Video tweeted by the television station shows a protester jumping on a table and raising a fist at one point before he is escorted out.

Republican supporters booed as the protester was escorted out of the arena by law enforcement. When another protester was escorted out, the Republican supporters chanted “USA.”

The term-limited Scott is running as a Republican for the U.S. Senate.

Source: The Associated Press

Monday is deadline to register to vote in Florida primary

A “Vote Here” sign stands outside the Ezell Hester Jr. Community Center in Boynton Beach Tuesday, January 30, 2018. (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)

Monday is the last day to register to vote before Florida’s Aug. 28 primary election.

Floridians who want to switch their party affiliation for the primary also must act by the deadline.

KNOW YOUR CANDIATES: Complete guide to the Aug. 28 election

There are contested primary races for governor on both the Republican and Democratic sides. Voters will also pick nominees for attorney general and agriculture commissioner. There are also several contentious races for Congress.

Florida residents can check their current registration status, register to vote or update their existing registration through the state’s online voter registration website RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov. Users will need their Florida driver license or Florida identification card and the last four digits of their social security number.

Florida residents can also print a paper application that can be mailed or hand-delivered to their local election supervisor

Source: The Associated Press

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.






Democrat Andrew Gillum enters Florida’s TV ad wars: ‘What’s impossible?’

Democrat Andrew Gillum in his new TV ad for governor.

The only candidate for Florida governor who hasn’t advertised on TV is making a modest entry into the ad wars today.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, one of five Democrats seeking his party’s nomination, is debuting a 30-second biographical spot called “What’s Impossible?”

His campaign is spending a mere $60,000 for spots on cable TV, which is less expensive than broadcast time. Next week, Gillum’s campaign says it will make a “six-figure buy” in Palm Beach County as well as the Tampa and Orlando markets.

(For comparison, Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene has spent about $10 million on advertising since entering the Democratic race in June.)

Gillum is the only black candidate and only non-millionaire in the Democratic race. His ad mentions his working-class upbringing, opposition to the National Rifle Association, and pledge to increase spending on education and health care.

“What’s impossible? The son of a bus driver becoming Mayor of the capital city, or that Mayor standing up against the NRA so that guns couldn’t be fired in city parks and winning? How about running for governor and being the most progressive Democrat who would invest a billion dollars in education and create Medicare for All?” Gillum says in the ad.

He then makes an appeal for contributions to keep him on TV.

“Is it impossible to come from nothing, be outspent 10 to 1 and win?” Gillum says. “Share this, buy a TV ad and prove the impossible.”

Trump to visit Tampa for Ron DeSantis, Rick Scott next week

President Donald Trump as a 2016 candidate at the South Florida Fairgrounds. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)

President Donald Trump has scheduled a July 31 rally in Tampa.

He’ll promote U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis in the Aug. 28 Republican primary for governor against Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam — following up on a December tweet praising DeSantis and a “full endorsement” of DeSantis in June.

Donald Trump Jr. campaigned for DeSantis in Orlando last week.

Trump, who’ll be appearing at the Expo Hall at the Florida State Fairgrounds, will also make a pitch for Gov. Rick Scott‘s bid for U.S. Senate against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson — identified in a Trump campaign announcement as “Ben Nelson.” Former Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Florida’s Sen. Bill Nelson were often mistaken for each other when their Senate careers overlapped from 2001 to 2013.

Scott’s campaign didn’t immediately say whether the governor will attend.

The Trump campaign says the Tampa event will be Trump’s 36th rally in Florida since he launched his presidential campaign in 2015.

In May, Trump phoned in to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi at the Hillsborough County GOP’s Lincoln Day dinner and said he’d be “in Tampa very soon.”

Trump’s last Florida visit was in April, when he wrapped up a Mar-a-Lago stay that included a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Liberal megadonor Tom Steyer puts money behind Gillum for governor

Clip from one of NextGen America’s digital ads supporting Democrat Andrew Gillum for governor.

Liberal megadonor Tom Steyer‘s NextGen America on Tuesday will launch a six-figure digital ad buy in support of Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum‘s Democratic bid for governor.

NextGen will air 30-second ads called “Our Turn” and “Lived It” on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other digital platforms with a target audience of people under 40.

Steyer and NextGen have pledged $1 million or more to help Gillum in the five-candidate Democratic primary race. Gillum, 38, is the only non-millionaire and the only African-American in the Democratic field and has lagged behind his rivals in fundraising.

Gillum is no stranger to deep-pocketed out-of-state progressive support. Hedge fund billionaire George Soros has given $700,000 to the pro-Gillum Forward Florida PAC and liberal luminaries Norman Lear ($50,000) and Jane Fonda ($10,000) have ponied up for the PAC or Gillum’s campaign as well.

More Trump-centric campaign: Ron DeSantis or Jeff Greene?

Six mentions of President Donald Trump on this mailer from Democratic Florida governor candidate Jeff Greene.

Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis — who campaigned last week with Donald Trump Jr. — has tied his bid for Florida governor closely to President Donald Trump, who endorsed DeSantis is June.

Greene mentioned Trump 10 times in this mailer.

Democrat Jeff Greene is running a fairly Trump-centric campaign as well, hoping that animus toward the president among Democratic primary voters will boost him in the five-candidate race.

Greene, a billionaire real estate investor, lives two properties south of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach and is a member of the exclusive club.

His debut TV ad featured a video clip that appeared to show him arguing with Trump and he’s used his Mar-a-Lago membership to shoot a photo that shows him glowering at the mansion and vowing to stand up to Trump as governor.

One mailer bills Greene as “Trump’s worst nightmare” on one side and includes 10 references to Trump on the other.

A new Greene mailer shows Trump golfing and says “When Trump plays, we pay,” then has six Trump mentions on the other side.



DeSantis calls Trump-Putin appearance a missed opportunity — to blame Obama

President Donald Trump’s choice for Florida governor, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, weighs in on the Trump-Vladimir Putin meeting in Helsinki.

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, whose Republican campaign for governor is built largely on President Donald Trump‘s endorsement, weighed in on Fox News about today’s Trump’s joint appearance with Russian President Vladimir Putin  in Helsinki.

DeSantis was asked about critics who said Trump missed an opportunity to criticize Putin for interfering in the 2016 election, as outlined in Friday’s indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence officials by special counsel Robert Mueller.

DeSantis did, in fact, see a missed opportunity.

“In terms of the meddling, I think the point to make, that the president could make very easily, is this happened when Obama was president and one of the reasons it happened, I think, is because people in the Russian government didn’t think Obama would do anything. So Obama’s weakness over eight years, starting with the ‘Reset,’ I think that that did invite Russia to be more belligerent than they otherwise would have if they had someone pushing back,” DeSantis said.

“So I think the president had an opportunity to point that out and say, you know, there’s a new sheriff in town. Because his administration has been tougher on Russia than Obama. For example, we tried to get legal aid to Ukraine so it could defend itself against Russian oppression. Obama opposed that. President Trump supports that. So he’s got a story to tell and I think that he should try to do that.”

DeSantis said the Mueller indictment and a House Intelligence Committee report are “credible” in blaming Russia for interference.

“Putin, if you look at the operation that they did with the spearphishing and the hacking, that was really a third rate operation. It was not sophisticated and I think the House Intel report and the Mueller indictment kind of show that,” DeSantis said.

“But man, what mileage have they gotten out of that and a lot of that is being driven by the president’s political opponents, both in the Democratic Party and the press. And I think that’s what bugs him about the issue, is that it’s used to try to delegitimize his election victory. I personally think the Intel report and the indictment are credible in terms of assigning blame, culpability to Russia. But at the same time, I don’t think that had anything to do with the fact that he whupped Hillary Clinton. And I also don’t think there was any Trump-Russia collusion. And so there’s just all these issues that have kind of been intermingled by a lot of the people that want to damage him as president.”