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Here are our best stories on the candidates running to be Florida’s next governor

There are five Democrats and two Republicans vying for the top job. We've covered all of them. Get caught up before the primaries.
 
A roll of "I Voted" stickers sit on a table inside a polling station. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
A roll of "I Voted" stickers sit on a table inside a polling station. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Published Aug. 22, 2018|Updated Aug. 22, 2018

Primary day — next Tuesday — is almost here.

After, Floridians will have their decision for governor narrowed down to two choices.

Still undecided? Don't worry. Our reporters at the Tampa Bay Times, our partners at the Miami Herald and our joint Tallahassee bureau have covered the race for months — the rallies, the debates, the visits from big names like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. We've dug into the candidates' backgrounds, investigated their past experience and followed the campaign cash.

We've compiled our top stories on the Democratic and Republican candidates for governor. And check out the Tampa Bay Times voter guide, to see where candidates stand on the most important issues facing the state.

Democrats

TAILYR IRVINE | TimesDemocratic candidate for Florida Governor Gwen Graham speaks after Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn announced his endorsement at the Columbia Restaurant on Thursday, August 16, 2018 in Tampa.
TAILYR IRVINE | TimesDemocratic candidate for Florida Governor Gwen Graham speaks after Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn announced his endorsement at the Columbia Restaurant on Thursday, August 16, 2018 in Tampa.

Gwen Graham, former U.S. Representative

What Gwen Graham's school district job can tell us about her bid for governor

"Her years bargaining with unions and disciplining teachers served as a springboard to Congress, where she served from 2015 to 2017. The teachers she eyed at the opposite end of the negotiation table are some of her biggest supporters now and could propel her into the governor's mansion."

How a mega-mall project became an issue in Florida governor race

"What was once a personal dilemma for Gwen Graham — whether or not to publicly support the family company's involvement in the American Dream Miami mega-mall project — has become a political one, as her opponents publicly blast her for refusing to take a position on it."

Florida democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine campaigns at the Jan Kaminis Platt Regional Public Library Monday, Aug. 13, 2018.  Certain polling places were open for early voting and Levine was in Tampa Bay trying to get support for his campaign. JAMES BORCHUCK  |  Times
Florida democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine campaigns at the Jan Kaminis Platt Regional Public Library Monday, Aug. 13, 2018. Certain polling places were open for early voting and Levine was in Tampa Bay trying to get support for his campaign. JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

Philip Levine, former Miami Beach mayor

Former Beach Mayor Levine: Four years of accomplishments, conflicts and self-promotion

"In slogging his way to Democratic front-runner in the race for governor, Levine has campaigned heavily on his tenure as mayor. And everyone seems to agree: What Miami Beach got during four years of Levine is what Florida will get if he ends up winning four years as governor."

Philip Levine is basing his run for governor on his climate change record — which is complicated

"As Levine crisscrosses the state promoting his radical sea-rise agenda on Miami Beach, his signature accomplishment is springing leaks back home. Amid questions about planning under Levine's tenure, angst about the city's climate change efforts effectively torpedoed the next steps of the former mayor's agenda. Because of fierce opposition to a $24 million project that includes raising roads, a divided city commission punted on nearly $90 million of roadway and stormwater improvements in a residential swath of the city."

Jeff Greene, Democratic candidate for Florida.
Jeff Greene, Democratic candidate for Florida.

Jeff Greene, Palm Beach developer

Can a billionaire's private school become a model for public education in Florida?

"While education is an all-consuming issue for Democratic voters and candidates, Greene's decision to promote a private school that vets students with an IQ exam is an awkward one, considering that his own party has spent the last 20 years trying to reverse a tide of legislative bills that have eroded teacher tenure, pushed public money into for-profit management companies and steered several hundred thousand students away from traditional schools."

Jeff Greene plays instigator as Florida's Democratic primary for governor gets ugly

"Greene, who's poured more than $18 million of his own money into his campaign, spent the past week blasting Graham on TV over her connection to the American Dream Miami mega-mall. On Friday he took aim at Levine, unleashing a commercial across the state that attacks the former Miami Beach mayor's sea-rise platform by comparing his city's vaunted flood pumps as open sewers."

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Democratic candidate for governor talks to the editorial board at the Tampa Bay Times studio in St. Petersburg on Tuesday. (EVE EDELHEIT | Times)
Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Democratic candidate for governor talks to the editorial board at the Tampa Bay Times studio in St. Petersburg on Tuesday. (EVE EDELHEIT | Times)

Andrew Gillum, Tallahassee mayor

What we know — and don't know — about the FBI investigation hanging over Andrew Gillum's campaign

"Just a few months into the Tallahassee mayor's run, FBI agents delivered a subpoena to his city hall in June 2017, requesting thousands of pages of records from key players in city government. The investigation has since dogged Gillum's campaign, with new developments dripping out with unpredictable frequency."

For Andrew Gillum, violent crime called for 'state of emergency.' Others didn't agree.

"Last year, when Tallahassee saw a record number of homicides in its county, Gillum made a similar call: Activate the county emergency operations center indefinitely to tackle violent crime. It was the third year in a row that state data indicated Leon County had the highest crime rate in the state, though the FBI, which compiles the data, cautions varying conditions make it difficult to compare numbers among cities and counties."

Businessman and gubernatorial candidate Chris King talks to a group of gay and lesbian Democrats in Tallahassee, Fla., on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Brendan Farrington
Businessman and gubernatorial candidate Chris King talks to a group of gay and lesbian Democrats in Tallahassee, Fla., on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Brendan Farrington

Chris King, Winter Park businessman

Chris King calls his religious faith a 'curiosity' in Democratic party

"Emphasizing that he believes in the separation of church and state, King said Democrats should adopt politics that reflects what he said are true Christian values – concern for the poor and underprivileged, acceptance of racial and gender diversity, and ensuring availability of health coverage, affordable housing and quality public education."

Why Chris King is still a contender

"He is setting the agenda for other Democrats, including forcing discussion about Florida's growing affordable housing shortage. When King linked the health of the Everglades to special interest influence, his rivals gradually followed his lead in refusing to accept campaign money from the sugar industry."

Republicans

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis answers questions from reporters after a Florida Republican gubernatorial primary debate at the Republican Sunshine Summit. (AP)
U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis answers questions from reporters after a Florida Republican gubernatorial primary debate at the Republican Sunshine Summit. (AP)

Ron DeSantis, U.S. Representative

Defending Trump, threatening shutdowns: What 5 years in Congress tell us about Ron DeSantis.

"There's no denying that the voting record of U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis reveals an uncompromising advocate for smaller government who's worked to shrink the institution he serves while emboldening an executive branch led by President Donald Trump. After five years on Capitol Hill, he's a top member of a renegade Republican caucus that's become Trump's top defender from the Russian investigation. And in every budget standoff except one, DeSantis voted to shut down the government rather than agree to a major spending package."

In bid for Florida governor, Ron DeSantis touts Navy Gitmo experience. But what did he do there?

"In his run for governor this year, DeSantis is spotlighting his time at Guantanamo as a key credential. Yet details about what exactly DeSantis did during this historic period are limited. DeSantis' campaign declined to make the candidate available to discuss the experience."

Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam is getting a boost from Publix in his bid for governor. [Octavio Jones | TAMPA BAY TIMES]
Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam is getting a boost from Publix in his bid for governor. [Octavio Jones | TAMPA BAY TIMES]

Adam Putnam, Agriculture Commissioner

How Adam Putnam turned his agriculture roots into a political machine

"Putnam has always spun his ties to the industry as a positive: Who better to run an agriculture agency than the heir to one of Florida's pioneering farmers? A "return to my roots," he told the then-St. Petersburg Times when he first campaigned for the job in 2010. Others have questioned how someone so intimately intertwined with an industry can also serve as its regulator."

'Proud NRA sellout': One year later, Adam Putnam fights for his political survival

"Even before the backlash, Putnam distanced himself from the "proud #NRASellout!" language at an April Palm Beach forum. Two months later, his campaign wouldn't say if he posted the tweet or if it came from his staff. Putnam said it was unfortunate that his tweet made him a target for gun-reform activists after Parkland. Attention must be paid, he said, on the mental health issues of the shooter."