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Jeff Greene's personal life, not his politics, sets him apart

What is so far most striking about billionaire Democratic Senate candidate Jeff Greene is certainly not his ideas. He's spending millions on television ads that say little except that he's an outsider, knows how to create jobs and has a sweet-looking mom.

What's most striking is how often I find myself asking him or his campaign handlers questions I never dreamed I'd be asking a statewide candidate in Florida:

When notorious Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss lived with you for a year, were you romantic? No, he said, he was helping out a friend in need.

How about that account in respected journalist Gregory Zuckerman's book The Greatest Trade Ever about the Ukrainian strippers aboard Greene's 145-foot yacht in the Black Sea? "Jeff was traveling on his boat with his rabbi and his younger brother to visit Jewish sites in Romania and Odessa," denied campaign spokesman Paul Blank.

Then last week I had to ask the campaign to confirm that Greene had employed a gargantuan bald fellow named Steel Chambers (Eric Lepkofke) as a bodyguard. He was hired to handle security for some of Greene's legendarily lavish parties in California, the campaign explained.

"In Hollywood, in California, he's more well known than probably Michael Jordan is. He's like the man. He's been doing these Memorial Day parties at his house in Malibu the last 17 years," Chambers told us.

So what insight could Steel Chambers provide about Florida's would-be junior senator? Not a whole lot:

• "You can tell he's not too good with chicks, because he's too brilliant. I felt his awkwardness around chicks." That said, Greene was "totally loyal to his wife."

• Greene never seemed to enjoy his bashes, because he was always focused on determining who didn't belong there.

• "He's a different kind of guy to work for. You work for him, you have to know anything and everything. The two things I learned to say to him: 'I'll find out.' 'I'll take care of it.' "

Rubio, LeMieux on Bay News 9 today

Check out Republican Senate candidate Marco Rubio and Republican Sen. George LeMieux today on Political Connections. LeMieux denies he knew anything about former GOP chairman Jim Greer's secret contract with the party and said last year he thought the accusations swirling around Greer were politically motivated attacks on Crist.

"I thought it was sort of reaction from the Republican Party really against the governor, with them having the ability to go after Jim as a pretext for the governor," LeMieux said.

Political Connections airs at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Bay News 9.

Consultant Isay joins Charlie Crist's team

New York City media consultant Josh Isay, who mainly works with Democrats but has also worked on the independent campaigns of Sen. Joe Lieberman in 2006 and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has signed on with Charlie Crist's independent Senate campaign.

Chiles' entry could tilt race GOP's way

Lawton "Bud" Chiles III, son the of the late governor, looks like more than a long shot in his independent run for governor. But don't underestimate his potential significance in the race or how worried many Democrats are about him.

Chiles, running to the left of Democratic front-runner Alex Sink, is highly unlikely to pull many conservative voters, but he is poised to attract liberals disaffected with Sink's cautious campaign style. Chiles could win just 5 percent of the vote and deliver the Governor's Mansion to the GOP.

Adam Smith can be reached at asmith@sptimes.com.

Loser of the week No. 1

Charlie Crist. He vouched for his longtime friend Jim Greer practically up until the cuffs were locked on the former state party chairman. And now it looks like Greer is not going to take a fall without insisting Crist knew about everything going on at the state party.

Loser of the week No. 2

Eric Holder. The U.S. attorney general last week went to New Orleans to meet with the attorneys general of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama about the spill rocking the Gulf Coast states. He saw no reason to invite Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, however, with a spokeswoman eventually struggling to explain Holder started with the states "most immediately affected." Wasn't this supposed to be the administration of competence?

Jeff Greene's personal life, not his politics, sets him apart 06/05/10 [Last modified: Saturday, June 5, 2010 7:59pm]
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