With Deep Pockets, Democrat Jeff Greene Asks For First Coast Votes In Governor's Race

Jul 9, 2018

Jeff Greene wants Democrats to vote for him in the August primary for Florida governor. Don’t know who he is? Well, he’s hoping that changes and quickly.

Forbes has reported Greene has a net worth estimated at close to $4 billion and the South Florida real estate developer said he’s ready to put up his own capital to get his name out there. But with less than a month before voters go to the polls, is a deep personal war chest enough? Greene thinks so.

“I really believe Florida is not a swing state, it’s not a purple state, it’s a blue state that’s just been outspent by the Republicans election, after election, after election,” Greene told WJCT News Monday.

Greene has already invested more than $7 million in his campaign, according to the Florida Division of Elections, and the Massachusetts-born tycoon said if he wins the nomination, he’s prepared to write checks for Democrats in close elections around the state.

“Everybody’s calling me all of a sudden. Why is that? I don’t understand,” Greene joked. “If I’m the nominee, obviously I’m going to be laser focused at that point on how am I going to have the biggest impact for the people of Florida. Well, obviously with a Republican House and Senate it will be a lot harder. So, I will work equally hard to win those down ticket races and I have the financial resources to do it.”

Greene is facing three Democratic challengers who announced candidacies last year, the latest being former Miami Beach Mayor Phillip Levine in Nov. 2017. Although the latest NBC News/Marist Poll shows Greene with just a 4 percent support rate, 47 percent of Democrats are still undecided. Greene said that was part of the reason he still announced a run late in the game last month.

Greene is towing the primary line on most issues like support for anti-LGBT discrimination legislation, a $15 minimum wage and medical marijuana. He’s also declared himself a supporter of traditional public schools and privately-funded alternatives. Greene last month spoke to WFSU about the private school he founded in West Palm Beach.

But at a time when wealth inequality has taken center stage and a growing number of self-proclaimed socialists are being elected nationwide, Greene’s fortune could be hindrance. Still, Greene said he has middle class roots and that his running for governor stems from a spirit of philanthropy.

“Well if you’re a Democrat I would say this: don’t hold it against me that I’m a billionaire and that I started with nothing and made all this wealth. A lot of people are trying to poke fun at it, [but] I worked very hard my whole life,” he said. “The fact of the matter is my number one goal is to give back.”

Greene spoke about a number of local issues Monday too. He said he was cautiously supportive of the St. Johns River deep dredging project.

He also would like to see state funding for school safety and security be made recurring and he would try to push the state towards expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.