Betty Castor endorses Gwen Graham, takes shot at rival Philip Levine’s comments on work

The former USF president attacks Levine while he's stopping in Tampa today on his bus tour.
Former congresswoman Gwen Graham, a Democratic candidate for governor, addresses the media in Tallahassee on Thursday. [ADAM C. SMITH | Times]
Former congresswoman Gwen Graham, a Democratic candidate for governor, addresses the media in Tallahassee on Thursday. [ADAM C. SMITH | Times]
Published Jan. 11, 2018|Updated Jan. 11, 2018

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham is touting a fresh endorsement today, one that takes a shot at rival Philip Levine.

Betty Castor, the former president of USF, a former state senator, the former Florida education commissioner and really, a Florida icon, threw her support behind the former congresswoman and addressed comments Levine made this week on his statewide bus tour.

On Wednesday, the Tallahassee Democrat quoted him talking about what sets him apart in the Democratic field, saying, "The fact that I've had that weird thing in my background called a job, the fact that I've actually done something with my life outside the public sector is probably a big differentiator."

We should point out that Levine's bus tour brings him to South Tampa today. We'll have a report later.

Here's the statement from Castor:

"Philip Levine can lecture women on what it means to have a job and 'do something' with your life after he raises three children while volunteering at their schools and working 50 hours a week. Not only does Levine not have the facts straight, his view that motherhood is anything less than a full-time job is exactly the kind of tone-deaf attitude we already see out of too many politicians in DC and Tallahassee. Real Floridians know you don't have to be a CEO or sell a company to contribute to your community. Working mothers, PTA presidents, teachers and public school officials perform some of the most important jobs in our state.

"At a moment defined by Donald Trump's non-stop bullying and bragging, it's especially disappointing to hear a Democrat doing the same thing. A governor shouldn't make like he's better than Floridians; she should make life better for Floridians.

"Now more than ever, we need a working mom to clean up the mess that 20 years of Republican-rule has made in Tallahassee," Castor said. "I have known Gwen almost all of her life. Her experiences as a working mother have uniquely prepared her for this moment in our state's history. Who better than a working mom to restore our promise to public schools, protect the clean water our children drink and fight for every single Floridian, not the rich and powerful. And, that's why Gwen's next job will be in the Governor's Office."

Here's how Levine campaign senior adviser Christian Ulvert responded:

"This is the kind of gutter politics that people have grown tired of. Philip Levine's record of elevating and empowering all individuals, from women to LGBTQ Floridians, is crystal clear. The values and principles that guide this campaign were shared by Philip Levine from the day he launched his campaign, with murals of community legends like Harriet Tubman encompassing the event. More importantly, Philip Levine's record of creating jobs and opportunity for all speaks for itself, and his appreciation for achievement is well-documented. I suggest that former Rep. Graham spend more time attacking the challenges of this state, and what she's done about it, than attacking those who've already made a difference on climate change, the minimum wage, and local control."