Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine on Monday said television stations should take down an "absolutely wrong" attack ad from the campaign of Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene.
But he wouldn't say if he would sue stations that don't remove them.
"We've got to get through this primary," Levine said. "We want to win the primary. I want to win the governorship and we'll deal with it at that point."
The new ad questions Levine's record on keeping Biscayne Bay clean. But the commercial showed newspaper headlines over stock images of polution from Asia, Serbia and Russia, leading viewers to believe they're of South Florida. Levine and Greene are Democratic candidates for governor.
Levine sent a cease and desist letter to the television stations airing the campaign commercial. Greene's campaign yesterday defended the ad.
"We never claimed the images were from Biscayne Bay," Greene spokeswoman Claire VanSusteren told the Miami Herald. "But the newspaper headlines speak for themselves."
Levine responded: "There should be truth in advertising."
"Unfortunately when you don't have a record, and you want to tear someone else's record down, but you've actually never done anything in that field and you resort to tactics that are untruthful and borderline fraudulent," Levine said.
It's not the first time this election that a campaign has called stations to stop airing an ad. Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis successfully lobbied radio stations to pull an ad claiming he voted in Congress to give food stamps to illegal immigrants. His campaign cited a PolitiFact fact-check which called the claim "Pants on Fire," it's worst rating.
Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham has also cried foul against Greene's ad raising questions about her ties to a proposed mega mall near the Everglades.
Levine's comments came during a brief stop at the Jan Kaminis Platt Regional Library in South Tampa to meet with volunteers on the first day of early voting.
In a sport coat and jeans, Levine posed for photos with about a dozen supporters in an uncomfortably hot parking lot. The quick visit lasted about 15 minutes.
Levine talked to one undecided voter but few people were voting at the time, around 1:30 p.m. About 200 people cast early ballots at that location as of 3 p.m.
Speaking with a reporter there, Levine also expressed frustration that what he perceived as a lack of experience in his opponents wasn't a bigger issue in the Democratic primary. Unlike them, he said, he as mayor accomplished many top priorities of the progressive platform.
"The big issue is stop asking candidates about what they're going to do in the future, ask them what they've done in the past," Levine said. "In the private sector we don't care about what you're going to say you're going to do, we care about what you've done."