Russian oligarchs and possible running mates circulate in Democratic race for governor

by | Aug 16, 2018

With the primary election 12 days away, the pace appears to be picking up in the Democratic contest for governor. Real estate investor Jeff Greene continues his negative attacks by calling former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, “Putin’s Puppet.” Meanwhile, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham is planning to announce later Thursday a “major” endorsement, likely from Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who has been named as a possible running mate. And a new poll released Wednesday afternoon shows Levine holding a slim lead over Graham.

Greene is directing his latest attack ad (see below) at Levine calling on him “to return $500,000 from a Russian billionaire (Len Blavatnik) whose donations to President Donald Trump are being probed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller,” the Greene campaign charged in a release issued Thursday morning.

“Philip Levine should return every penny of the $500,000 in political contributions from the Russian billionaire and “oligarch” whose donations to Trump are being investigated by Mueller,” said Greene. “Despite allegations of Russians plotting to interfere in Florida’s elections, Levine is cozying up to Trump’s Russian donors.”

“It’s pretty ironic that Jeff Greene, a one-time Republican who said Donald Trump is a great guy and a delightful alternative to Hillary Clinton, is once again falsely portraying the facts,” responded Christian Ulvert, senior adviser to the Levine campaign. “I guess since he stood by Donald Trump and paid hundreds of thousands to have access to him at Mar-a-Lago, he is now attacking a donor who gave to President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and a number of Democrats, not to mention that the donor is a U.S. citizen and a well-respected entrepreneur who donated over $40 million to Harvard University. Mr. Greene lied his way through the facts in his failed 2010 U.S. Senate campaign and is doing it again this year.”

Pollster Tom Eldon said Greene’s drop to fourth is the result of negative ads that Greene has been running against Graham attacking her environmental record. Eldon says the ads have “seriously diminished his (Greene’s) chances as he has dropped into the fourth place in the low teens.”

Levine launched his own political ad (see below) Thursday morning called, “Fight for Florida.” The spot focuses on Levine’s commitment to the environment, gun reform, and “speaking out against the intolerance and divisiveness which President Trump governs.”  

“This year, Floridians need a fighter—someone unafraid to stand up to Donald Trump and speak up for what’s right. Philip Levine is that fighter,” said Ulvert.

Later Thursday, Graham is expected to  pick up a “major endorsement” in Tampa. It’s expected that endorsement will come from Buckhorn, the Tampa mayor who has been suggested could be Graham’s running mate.

Buckhorn told the Tampa Bay Times Wednesday he was ready to serve.

“She’s the perfect candidate,” Buckhorn said. “She’s measured. She’s tempered. Relatively centrist in her approaches. I think she represents the opportunity to turn the page in this state that’s been controlled by the Republicans for 20 years. I think she does it in the manner of reaching across the aisle to find solutions.”


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