It is an announcement that has long been expected. Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine made it official Wednesday morning. He is entering the race for governor.
He becomes the fourth major Democratic candidate to enter the contest.
“We live in a state where people come every day to enjoy nature’s best, where families live every day expecting a shot at the American dream, not a threat to their health care,” Levine said in his announcement. “A state where Floridians show up every day believing hard work will be rewarded not discouraged. A state where children hope every day the environment they inherit has been cherished and protected. This is the Florida I’m fighting for. And this is the Florida I am ready to lead.”
Levine made his announcement at his Miami campaign headquarters located inside a building he owns. On the walls are images of past leaders who Levine admires: Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman and Cesar Chavez.
“We are surrounded today by images of heroes. Those whose principals and achievements were powered by one simple, yet timeless, truth — we are only as strong as we are together, united as one,” Levine told his supporters. “Like America’s greatest generation, those heroes devoted their lives — even sacrificed their lives — to help all who would follow.”
The 55-year-old Levine, a multi-millionaire businessman has indicated for months that he was interested in running for governor. He has put more than $2.6 million of his own money into a political committee and has kept busy traveling the state and meeting with various groups.
“So today, before friends and family and inspired by the heroism of those that dreamed big and achieved big,” Levine said. “I am announcing my candidacy for governor of the state of Florida.”
Levine was elected mayor of Miami Beach in 2013. He spent $2 million of his personal money on that race.
He built his fortune from a $500 capital investment in a business that specialized in providing in-cabin magazines and television programs for cruise lines. By the time Levine sold the marketing company in 2000, it had grown into a business that produced $400 million in annual revenue.
Levine has since developed a company that provides a similar service to Royal Caribbean International.
Levine enters a field of Democratic candidates that includes former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Orlando businessman Chris King.
Polls show Graham to be the frontrunner in the race for the Democratic nomination. The most recent survey, conducted for Florida Politics and released Wednesday, shows Graham holding a sizable lead over her opponents. Graham is favored by 31 percent of the Democratic voters surveyed, followed by Gillum with 13 percent. Levine comes in third with 6 percent. King received 5 percent.
Until Wednesday, Levine was one of two big-name candidates who has hinted for months that they might be interested in running for the Democratic nomination for governor. The other being Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan. For now, the speculation over a possible Morgan bid for governor continues.
On the other side, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and state Sen. Jack Latvala are the major Republican candidates to have declared their candidacy. House Speaker Richard Corcoran and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis are believed to be considering possible bids for their party’s gubernatorial nomination.seeking their party’s nomination, with other candidates expected to enter the race
Gov. Rick Scott is set to leave office after next year’s election due to term limits.