Chris King finished a distant fifth in the Aug. 28 Democratic primary for governor, but his progressive platform impressed primary winner Andrew Gillum enough to earn King a berth on the general election ticket as Gillum’s running mate.
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King was asked about the bullet tax Tuesday after he made an appearance in West Palm Beach to denounce Republican nominee Ron DeSantis on health care.
“Part of what happens when you lose an election and you now have a new boss is he sets the ultimate priorities,” King said. “And as we’re assimilating, it doesn’t appear that that one has moved forward into the general election.”
The Florida governor’s race between 39-year-old Democrat Andrew Gillum and Republican Ron DeSantis, who turns 40 next week, will produce the state’s youngest governor in more than a century.
Tallahassee Mayor Gillum and U.S. Rep. DeSantis heightened the Gen X flavor of the race on Thursday when they chose running mates who were born in the 1970s.
Gillum tapped another 39-year-old, Winter Park businessman Chris King, for the Democratic ticket while DeSantis picked 46-year-old state Rep. Jeanette Nunez of Miami as the GOP nominee for lieutenant governor.
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The youngest Florida governor at inauguration was Marcellus Lovejoy Stearns, who was 34 when he took office in 1874. Stearns, who lost an arm while fighting for the Union in the Civil War, was a lieutenant governor who ascended to the top job when Gov. Ossian Hart died of pneumonia.
Park Trammell became the second-youngest governor in Florida history — and the state’s youngest elected governor — when he was inaugurated at 36 in 1913 after winning the 1912 election.
Florida’s only other under-40 governor was William Sherman Jennings, who was 37 at the time of his 1901 inauguration.
Gillum or DeSantis would be the state’s fourth-youngest governor, displacing John Wellborn Martin, who was 40 years, 6 months and 15 days old when he was inaugurated in 1925. Fort Pierce native Dan McCarty was a few weeks shy of his 41st birthday when he became governor in 1953. He died of a heart attack later that year.
The oldest Florida governor at time of inauguration was Buddy MacKay, the lieutenant governor who became governor at age 65 when Lawton Chiles died in office in December 1998, a few weeks before the end of his term. The state’s oldest elected governor was Fred Cone, who was 65 when he won the 1936 governor’s race.
Florida’s gubernatorial nominees — Democrat Andrew Gillum and Republican Ron DeSantis — announced their running mates this morning.
Gillum tapped one of his Democratic primary rivals, Winter Park businessman Chris King, who finished fifth in last week’s primary. Politics is full of phony professions of friendship and respect, but Gillum and King seemed to genuinely like one another on the campaign trail. They were also the two most liberal candidates in the field.
The selection of Nunez was first reported by Politico late Wednesday in an article that also noted that she supported Sen. Marco Rubio in the 2016 presidential primary and ripped then-candidate Donald Trump.
“Wake up Florida voters, Trump is the biggest con-man there is. #nosubstance #anti-Israel #supportsKKK #nevertrump
VOTE @marcorubio #RUBIO,” Nunez tweeted on March 3, 2016. The tweet was deleted later Wednesday night.
Democrat Andrew Gillum entered primary election day trailing Philip Levine and Gwen Graham in Palm Beach County — but he ended up narrowly winning the county after a strong turnout at the precincts on the traditional election day.
Gillum carried Palm Beach County — the state’s third-largest jurisdiction — with 29.2 percent of the vote to 28.6 percent for Graham, a difference of 702 votes.
Gillum got only 19 percent of ballots cast by mail in Palm Beach County, finishing fourth in that category behind Levine, Graham and billionaire Palm Beach real estate investor Jeff Greene.
In ballots cast at the county’s 15 early voting sites, Gillum finished third with 27.3 percent, trailing Levine and Graham.
But on the traditional election day, Gillum got 35.7 percent of the county vote, far exceeding Graham’s 30.1 percent and Levine’s 23.1 percent.
Greene, who got 10.1 percent statewide, got 13.7 percent in his home county. In Precinct 7154 in Palm Beach, Greene’s home precinct, he finished third with 9 votes, trailing Graham’s 14 and Gillum’s 12.
It’s not immediately clear how early, mail and election-day voting broke statewide for the five-candidate Democratic field.
Palm Beach County voters are more old-school than the rest of Florida. While 57 percent of Democrats statewide cast their ballots by mail or at early-voting sites, only 48 percent of Palm Beach County voters used those forms of voting, with 52 percent waiting until the traditional election day.
The new survey of 600 Democrats by pollster Tom Eldon of SEA Polling & Strategic Design was conducted Saturday through Tuesday and has a 4 percent margin of error. It shows Levine at 27 percent, Graham at 24 percent, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum at 15 percent, billionaire Palm Beach real estate investor Jeff Greene at 13 percent and Winter Park businessman Chris King at 3 percent. Eighteen percent of Democrats say they’re undecided.
Billionaire Palm Beach real estate investor Jeff Greene says he unloaded $16.5 million worth of oil and energy stock today — a sell-off his campaign says was already in the works when Democratic gubernatorial primary rival Gwen Graham accused him this afternoon of “profiting off Gulf Oil drilling.”
Greene then challenged Graham to put a halt to a massive mall project in Miami-Dade that sits partially on land owned by Graham’s family development company.
Greene and another Democratic candidate, Winter Park businessman Chris King, criticized Graham in a debate last week over the planned 6 million-square-foot American Dream Mall, noting that environmentalists oppose the project because it’s relatively close to the Everglades. Graham’s campaign says she does not influence the operations of the Graham Companies.
Graham’s candidate financial disclosure lists $13.7 million worth stock in the Graham Companies, which her campaign said is less than 5 percent of the company’s value. Graham stepped down from the company’s board after she was elected to Congress in 2014 and has placed her holdings in the company into a “transparent trust,” her campaign said. Graham has also pledged that, if she’s governor and questions about the project come before state government, she will recuse herself and ask the state’s three elected Cabinet members to decide.
The Everglades Trust has criticized the project — but endorsed Graham this week in the five-candidate Democratic primary that includes Graham, Greene, King, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine.
Graham’s campaign today slammed Greene for owning stock in Exxon Mobil, Hess and seven other companies with “known oil interests.”
The companies are listed on Greene’s financial disclosure form as sources of “secondary income,” but the specific amount of income derived from them is not listed.
Greene began selling the stock when the market opened this morning and planned to announce it Thursday, campaign spokeswoman Claire VanSusteren said, as part of his pledge to divest himself of potential conflicts. Greene pushed up the announcement after Graham went on the attack, VanSusteren said.
VanSusteren said Greene unloaded 75,000 shares of Exxon Mobil Corp. at $80 a share, 150,000 shares of Hess Corp. at $65; 10,000 shares of Kinder Morgan Inc. at $33 and 9,800 shares of Apache Corp. at $46.
Greene no longer owns shares of three of the other companies Graham’s campaign cited, VanSusteren said, but he listed them on his disclosure “in an abundance of caution as he had owned them in the previous calendar year.” For two of the other companies Graham flagged, VanSusteren said Greene “derives no income from these stocks; he has not done so in more than 5 years.” Another company, Quantum Energy, “is a hedge fund with a 10 year term that will self-liquidate by September 2019.”
Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham — rivals in Florida’s Aug. 28 Democratic gubernatorial primary — have released dueling TV ads and campaign statements over a massive mall project planned for a 175-acre Miami-Dade parcel that includes land owned by a company founded and controlled by Graham’s family.
Greene and another Democratic candidate, Winter Park businessman Chris King, brought up the American Dream Mall during a televised debate in Palm Beach Gardens last week, noting that environmentalists oppose the project because it’s relatively close to the Everglades.
Greene followed up with a 30-second TV ad that began airing over the weekend, criticizing “Graham’s mall” and concluding with the words “How can Florida trust her?” on the screen.
“A billionaire opponent is attacking me personally – even falsely attacking my dad, Bob Graham. It’s disappointing,” Graham says in the ad. The ad notes that Graham was endorsed Monday by the Everglades Trust.
Everglades Trust Director Kimberly Mitchell has been critical of the mall project, saying: “While we are fighting like the dickens to ensure the survival of the Everglades and the source of drinking water for eight million Floridians, mega-developers and projects like these continue to put it all at risk.”
Graham has tried to distance herself from the Graham Companies. She stepped down from the company’s board after she was elected to Congress in 2014 and has placed her holdings in the company — valued at more than $13.7 million — into a “transparent trust,” her campaign said. Graham has also pledged that, if she’s governor and questions about the project come before state government, she will recuse herself and ask the state’s three elected Cabinet members to decide.
After Graham accused him of attacking her father, Greene’s campaign issued a statement praising Bob Graham’s environmental record while quoting Greene saying: “But Gwen Graham is no Bob Graham.”
• Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum: “I will not raise taxes on everyday Floridians…Regular, everyday people are paying their fair share. Corporations, however, the largest most wealthiest corporations in this state, only 3 percent of companies, pay the corporate income tax in this state. And in Florida the corporate income tax is less than that of Georgia and Alabama. Florida cannot be a cheap date and still be the state that is deserving of our children. I believe that corporations have to pay their fair share.”
• Palm Beach real estate investor Jeff Greene: “We don’t have to raise taxes in Florida. It’s just a question of priorities…It’s very easy. We just change our priorities and start spending more money on the things that are important to us and we’ll get everything done. Get rid of the corporate welfare checks that Rick Scott‘s been giving out.”
• Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham: “On Nov. 7, I’m going to pull together a team of the smartest and best people to evaluate and do a full audit of our budget. Where are we spending our money? Is it justified? Are we spending it in the best interest of Floridians? We’re going to find out if there’s a lot of resources that the state of Florida is using that are not helping Floridians. My commitment is to redirect those resources and I will be working hard every day to make sure we have a positive impact on your life.”
• Winter Park businessman Chris King: “I am going to demonstrate the integrity that we can pay for the big ideas from the revenues of Florida without adding to our tax burden.”
• Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine: “I am not a tax-and-spend Democrat. I am an invest-and-build Democrat and I believe in investing in Floridians. Under no circumstances would I raise taxes in Florida. With an $89 billion budget in Florida and so many opportunities to derive revenue and make corporations actually pay the 5-1/2 percent tax, we do not need to raise taxes in Florida. As a matter of fact, Florida being a low-tax state is one of our great competitive advantages — and advantage that I, under no circumstances would I like to see go away.”
The NBC poll gives Nelson a 49-to-45 percent lead over Scott among registered –not likely — voters in a survey with a 3.9 percent margin of error. CBS had Scott leading by a 46-to-41 percent margin among likely voters, but by only 2 points among registered voters. The CBS poll had a 3.5 percent margin of error.
In other words, considering the margins of error and the more than four months until election day, the Nelson-Scott contest looks close — like Florida’s 2012 and 2016 presidential races and 2010 and 2014 governor’s races, all of which were decided by between 0.9 and 1.2 percentage points.
Not as close, according to NBC, is the Republican primary for governor. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam holds a 38-to-21 percent lead over U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.
NBC’s take on the Putnam-DeSantis is similar to the results of a Fox News poll last week that showed Putnam holding a 32-to-17 percent lead.
Both polls offer some hope for DeSantis, who was praised by President Donald Trumpon Twitter in December and got the president’s “full endorsement” on Friday. NBC and Fox both found 39 percent of Republican primary voters are undecided ahead of the Aug. 28 primary.
In the five-candidate Democratic primary for governor, NBC finds the race up for grabs. Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine tops the field at 19 percent and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham gets 17 percent in a sample that has a 6.5 percent margin of error. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (8 percent), billionaire Palm Beach real estate investor Jeff Greene (4 percent) and Winter Park businessman Chris King (3 percent) round out the Democratic field with 47 percent of voters undecided.
All five Florida Democratic candidates for governor — Andrew Gillum, Gwen Graham, Jeff Greene, Chris King and Philip Levine — are scheduled to appear in Broward County this weekend for the Florida Democratic Party’s annual Leadership Blue Gala, but no debate is scheduled.
Each of the candidates is hosting a welcome reception Friday night at the Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood and will be available to interact with party activists at a “meet the candidates” event Saturday afternoon. Each candidate also gets a three-minute speaking slot at a dinner Saturday night.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee — chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, which hasn’t had a Florida representative in this millennium — will be the keynote speaker. U.S. House Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn and Sen. Bill Nelson are also featured attractions.
Three-term incumbent Nelson faces the re-election fight of his life this year against Republican Gov. Rick Scott. And Democrats are hoping to win a Florida governor’s race for the first time since 1994, when Lawton Chiles squeaked to a second term against Republican Jeb Bush.
The Leadership Blue weekend is the state party’s main fundraising event. This is the first one under Terrie Rizzo, the Palm Beach County Democratic chair who was elected state chairwoman in December.