Repeating his promise to “spend whatever is needed to get the message out,” Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene filed his paperwork Wednesday afternoon to qualify to run for the Democratic nomination for governor.
Greene is one of five Democratic candidates running in the primary and is the most recent to enter the race filing his initial paperwork. He joins former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, former U.S. Rep, Gwen Graham, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and Orlando-area businessman Chris King.
He doesn’t see his late entry in the race hurting his chances in the August primary. He says none of the other candidates possess the skill set he possess. Although, Levine, Graham and King are all multi-millionaires, with Levine and King both building successful businesses from scratch.
But, Greene says none of them have connected with the voters.
“These candidates have been running, some for over a year, and any poll you see shows the leader is ‘undecided,’ which means none of these candidates have been able to inspire the electorate,” Greene said
Greene, a real estate investor, is listed by Forbes as having a net worth of $3.8 billion. He comes from humble beginnings. His father died at the age of 51 of a massive heart attack, which Greene blames on his father losing his job. His mother had to go to work as waitress to support the family.
Greene worked three jobs and took out student loans to put himself through college and the Harvard Business School.
“My worth to the people of Florida is that I am somebody who is going to go fight for them because I don’t have special interest behind me,” Greene said. “I don’t need to do this. I know what it’s like to struggle and I know what it’s like to have a family. And I will do everything I can to fight for the people of Florida. That is my worth to them.”
Earlier this week, Greene announced a $2.9 million ad campaign featuring two spots. In one of the spots, Greene is seen exchanging words with President Donald Trump at the Trump Palm Beach golf course in December of 2016. The announcer in the spot says Greene “is the only candidate in America willing to stand up to Trump in his own dining room.”
Greene was critical of Trump for the president’s “zero tolerance” policy in immigration cases, which resulted in the separation of children from parents who had illegally entered the U.S. Nearly 200 of those children have been housed at a shelter in Homestead.
“What he’s doing is child abuse,” Greene asserted. “Their lives have been traumatized and we’re better than that as a country.”
Greene says while he doesn’t need campaign contributions, he will accept donations of up to $100 from donors who want to be involved with the campaign. Greene told the Associated Press last week he was willing to spend up to $200 million of his own money.
Greene says previous Democratic nominees have been unable to compete with the resources that have been available to their Republican opponents. He says he’s prepared to put his money behind his message and is ready to provide campaign money to Democrats down ticket in an effort to turn Florida “blue.”
Greene says his “message” involves improving public schools and making sure workers are making a livable wages.
“I’ve been the luckiest guy in the world, financially, and because I am I haven’t take a penny from special interest,” Greene said, calling the people of Florida his “special interest.”
“They’ll realize they’re going to get a fighter in Jeff Greene who is really, finally, going to do what has to be done.”