2018 governor’s race

Dueling Dems go after Trump, cigar-toting Republicans in latest ads

Democrats Gwen Graham and Jeff Greene launched new TV ads this week, as time runs out before voters start casting ballots in the Aug. 28 primary.

Greene, the Palm Beach billionaire who lives next door to President Donald Trump, takes aim at his neighbor in one of two ads totaling a $2.7 million weeklong buy, according to Greene’s camp.

Or rather, Trump is the one taking aim in the ads — with his golf club.

The spot features the president swinging away on the golf course, and complains that “Florida taxpayers are paying for it — literally ” every time Trump visits the Sunshine State. The presidential drop-ins cost millions in overtime and road closures, according to the ad, in which Greene pledges “to put a stop to that, day one” if elected governor.

A second Greene ad’s more upbeat, and stars the candidate, his wife and his three young sons — Malcolm, Brandon and Cameron — he says are the reason he’s in the race to succeed outgoing Gov. Rick Scott.

Greene is a late entry into the crowded Democratic field, but he’s pledged to spend what it takes to move into the govenror’s mansion.

In her latest ad, Graham — who ousted former U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland in 2014 and served a term in Congress before deciding to seek re-election after her North Florida district was redrawn — continued what appears to be a general-election strategy by going after Republicans.

“It has been really bad for Florida that, for twenty years, the Republican Party has been in total control. It’s these high-paid lobbyists that are in charge in Tallahassee,” Graham says while black-and-white images of GOP legislators posing with cigars on the floor of the state House flash on the screen.

Graham and Greene are facing off in the primary against Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and Orlando entrepreneur Chris King.

 

Speaker-D Oliva backs DeSantis over Putnam

desantis-familyThe day of the first debate between Congressman Ron DeSantis and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Trump darling DeSantis snagged a major endorsement from state Rep. José Oliva, a Miami Republican who’s soon to be one of the three most powerful men in the Capitol.

DeSantis, a Palm Coast Republican who’s also nailed the support of the president, is trailing Putnam, who’s viewed as the “establishment” candidate as he’s racked up a ton of endorsements, in fundraising in the polls.

But the backing of Oliva, who’s family emigrated to the U.S. from Cuba, is a coup for DeSantis, an immigration hardliner running for governor in a state with a significant Hispanic voting bloc considered crucial for a November victory.

“Ron’s commitment to this country and the values that made it great are second to none,” Oliva, who lives in Hialeah, said in a press release that praises DeSantis’ military service.

Jose-Oliva-head-shot-croppedDeSantis is a Yale grad who got his law degree from Harvard, and served in Iraq alongside a Navy SEAL team. .

DeSantis “always puts America first,” Oliva said in the release.

“He’s a tax cutter, budget hawk, education reformer, and the rarest of elected officials in Washington, a demonstrated conservative,” Oliva gushed. “Florida has consistently shown what conservative governance can do for our schools, economy, job creation and quality of life. We must continue that legacy of conservative leadership and we can trust Ron Desantis to do that.”

Watch it: DeSantis and “the big man himself”

Days after snagging the endorsement of “the big man himself,” U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis launched his first campaign ad in his bid to capture the GOP nomination for governor.

DeSantis is trailing state Ag Commish Adam Putnam in the polls and in fundraising, but could have a priceless asset in the GOP primary: President Donald Trump.

The ad is “part of a $12 million ad buy between now and Election Day,” according to a release issued by DeSantis’ campaign.

Apart from the glowing praise from the president (called “the big man himself” in the 30-second spot) of DeSantis as a “brilliant leader” and a “warrior,” the ad highlights DeSantis’ resume as an Iraq war vet and JAG officer who “dealt with terrorists in Guantanamo,” is “100 percent pro-life” and who is “leading the charge against illegal immigration.”

Oh, and DeSantis also has “the guts to fight establishment politicians in both parties to drain the swamp,” according to the ad.

 

It’s official: Trump hearts DeSantis

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis has been boasting for a while now that he’s got the endorsement of President Donald Trump in the primary battle with Florida Ag Commish Adam Putnam to replace Gov. Rick Scott.

But Friday morning, the president made it official, with a tweet to his gazillions of followers.

DeSantis’ campaign quickly issued a press release announcing the endorsement, which could be priceless in Florida’s heated GOP primary.

“We’re proud to have the full support of President Trump,” DeSantis’ campaign spokesman David Vasquez said in the release. “As a top conservative leader in Florida, taxpayer superhero and an Iraq veteran, Ron DeSantis will make a Great Governor of Florida.” 

Trump’s tweet on the heels of a Fox News poll that found DeSantis trailing Putnam by 17 points among likely Republican primary voters.

The poll also found that immigration was the top issue for Florida Republicans, followed by health care, the economy, guns, the opioid crisis, taxes, environmental issues and abortion.

Greene on ganja: Are the kids alright?

IMG_0236Jeff Greene, the Palm Beach billionaire who this week joined a crowded slate of Democrats seeking to replace Gov. Rick Scott, shared his thoughts about marijuana with Truth or Dara during a lengthy interview that included some chit-chat about Willie Nelson and air pods.

(Spoiler alert: He’s a fan of both the musician and the technology).

On medical marijuana, Greene’s got the same take as his competitors, who’ve all come out in support of allowing patients to smoke their treatment.

But the father of three young boys is on the fence about flat-out legalization of recreational pot. Greene says he wants more data about what’s happened in other states that have legalized marijuana before he decides.

Saying he “always likes to learn from other people,” Greene wants to look at states such as Colorado, where recreational has been legal for more than a minute.

Greene’s biggest worry is his three young sons, who are now ages four, six and eight.

“They grow up so quickly. When I think of recreational marijuana being legal, I just imagine my son in four or five years,” said Greene.

Perhaps his 13-year-old son is visiting a friend and comes across “a pack of marijuana cigarettes” left around the house by a relative or friend, Greene posited.

“Is he going to say, hey, let’s try this,” Greene wondered.

“So the biggest worry I have is, again, as a father with young children, and someone whose candidacy is largely based on kids and getting kids great educations and having equality of opportunity for all Floridians, and as someone who’s focused on kids.

My view would be, let’s look at the states that have legalized recreational marijuana and let’s understand if there’s been an increase in consumption among young people. If there has, I have to say I definitely want to decriminalize it but I would not legalize it so fast,” he said.

But if the kids are OK, Greene said the state should go for it.

“If there has been no uptick in use whatsoever among young people, I’d say absolutely legalize it, regulate it. That way people who are using it know what they’re getting. Tax it, get some revenue, use the revenue from that to attack the real drug problem, which is the opioid crisis, which is epidemic in our state, in our country,” he said. “It’s something I want to look at very intelligently, just like in education. I look at the states that have done a great job, like Massachusetts, New Jersey, and think, what can we learn from them here in Florida to make our education top five in the country?”

When Truth or Dara asked Greene where he stands on the marijuana issue (both smokable and recreational) he prefaced his response with: “This is my position. It didn’t come from any poll or research. It’s just how I feel.”

Greene, 63, said that medical marijuana has “proven to be an enormous help” to sick people.

“These are people who have cancer, who are really struggling. If it helps relieve their pain, how can we possible not let them get it, in any way they want to ingest it,” he said.

People have been smoking marijuana “for generations now,” Greene said, adding that he doesn’t believe that allowing patients to smoke pot will result in more pot being available for people to use recreationally.

Smoke is an issue, of course, because of a legal tangle over a state law prohibiting smokable medical marijuana. Judge Karen Gievers ruled that the ban runs afoul of the constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana in Florida, but Gov. Rick Scott’s administration is appealing the decision.

“On medical, I say make it available. If they want to smoke it, if they want to swallow it, whatever they want to do, but, if it helps them, please Rick Scott, please Republicans, stop hurting these people. These are people who are very sick often, and it’s just horrible that they’re restricting their ability to get pain relief,” he said.

 

 

Greene uses face-off with Trump in new ad

The Dems vying for guv are united in their hostility toward President Donald Trump, but Jeff Greene is likely the only candidate that has the video to prove he went head-to-head with the part-time Florida man.

Greene, a Palm Beach billionaire and late entry into the crowded Democratic primary, dropped two ads this morning, including one that includes a grainy video of an angry Trump apparently yelling at Greene at Mar-A-Lago.

“Jeff is the only candidate in America who is willing to stand up to Trump in his own dining room,” the voiceover says.

Greene dropped $2.9 million on the weeklong TV and digital ad buy, an amount that’s “four times the dollar amount of his closest Democratic competitor,” according to a press release announcing the splurge. Greene’s pledged to spend “whatever it takes” to win the race.

Here’s an explanation from Greene’s camp about the altercation between the Palm Beach billionaires:

This video is from December 2016 at the Trump Palm Beach golf course, of which Greene is not a member, but where he was attending a friend’s birthday dinner. Greene was crossing the room when then-President-elect Trump – who was dining with his wife and son, as well as Hope Hicks, Kellyanne Conway, and others – became agitated, pointing at Greene and yelling to those seated at his table about how Jeff Greene spent money to support Hillary Clinton’s campaign and went on national TV to speak out against him. Greene stood his ground and replied that yes, he supported Hillary Clinton, he is a proud Democrat, and that he did not agree with Trump or his campaign. Greene’s wife was seated two tables away from the altercation in the crowded dining room and filmed this clip.

Here’s the other ad, in which Greene talks about his dad:

John Morgan: “If I was Bill Nelson, I’d be worried”

IMG_0124Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan held court with reporters moments before a hearing in a lawsuit he initiated kicked off Wednesday morning.

Morgan is a political rainmaker who largely bankrolled the constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana in Florida and was overwhelmingly approved by voters nearly two years ago.

Morgan, who had toyed with the notion of running for governor, spoke about his decision to stay out of the governor’s race.

“I’ll tell you. To run for governor, you’ve got to be done making money. And I’m not done making money. Or you have to be a professional politician. And I’m not a professional politician,” he said.

Morgan said he spoke yesterday with Philip Levine, the former Miami Beach Miami who is a contender in the Democratic primary for governor.

“I told him he’s lucky I’m not in ‘cause I would win in a landslide,” Morgan said, adding that he didn’t know which Democrat would capture the nomination.

“All I know is I’ve never known any governor that’s ever done anything for any of us. Ever. So it’s not a job that I really think I’d be good at every day. I’m better at this,” he said, standing outside the courtroom.

Morgan also said he supported House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s decision to stay on the sidelines in the governor’s race.

Morgan said Corcoran visited him a few weeks ago.

“I said, look, here’s the deal. It’s all about money. And if you don’t got the money, you can’t run. I said at the end of the day, questions answer themselves. And I think the question was answered for Richard Corcoran when the money froze up,” Morgan said.

While Corcoran is a friend and someone he would have helped, Morgan said the Land O’ Lakes Republican made the right choice.

“I think he made the right decision because I think he would have gotten beat and I think he knew he was going to get beat. And if I’m going to get beat, I don’t like to go to my own ass-kicking,” Morgan said.

Morgan also had what appeared to be a dim view of incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s odds against challenger Rick Scott, who’s finishing his last year as governor.

“I think Sen Nelson is in for a dog fight. I think he’s got to get busy. You cannot underestimate this Rick Scott. He is a methodical, Eveready bunny, a bald-headed Eveready bunny who just never stops. He’s focused, and he’s got the money, and he’s got the message, and if I was Bill Nelson, I’d be worried,” he said.