Video: Can you see one of these guys as Florida's next Democratic governor?
Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine has spent years traveling alongside his pal Bill Clinton, but Bill's legendary political instincts did not necessarily rub off on the multimillionare businessman exploring a run for governor any more than they did on Hillary. This occurred to me Monday night as I realized Mayor Levine was about to impersonate the voice of a black man, generally a horrible idea for any white politician.
Fortunately for Levine, his well-intentioned, self-effacing anecdote about his efforts to ramp up African-American turnout for Mrs. Clinton last year seemed to go over pretty well at the Hillsborough Democratic Party's monthly meeting in Tampa. The crowd appeared to like him and his vision for creating a Florida economy where, as he put it, everyone should be able to afford to go to Disney World.
Levine is a multimillionaire businessman and longtime Democratic donor and fundraiser, who has a track record of success in the private sector and leading Miami Beach. He is probably underestimated as a potential candidate for governor, given his smarts, his money, and his network.
As a campaign speaker, Levine clearly is a work in progress, not nearly as comfortable as Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, an already announced candidate who fired up liberal activists in Tampa two days earlier at the Progressive Democratic Caucus of Florida conference. Gillum may have less of a track record of accomplishment than Levine, but he also is underestimated as a statewide candidate. Gillum has an inspiring personal story, youthful energy, and -- maybe --- the ability to excite rank and file Democrats in a way Florida hasn't seen in a long time.
Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee is widely viewed as the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination. But once the daughter of former Sen. Bob Graham formally enters the race, she faces at least two potentially tough challengers and more likely than not a wide open fight for the Democratic nomination.