TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine has his eyes set on Tallahassee.
“Before friends and family, and inspired by the heroism of those who dreamed big and achieved big, I am announcing my candidacy for Governor of the State of Florida,” said Mayor Levine Wednesday morning.
If he wins, Levine promised to focus heavily on climate change.
“As Governor, I will make Florida an international leader, not just in climate change and sea level rise, but also in solar and renewable energy. After all, we are the Sunshine State, not the partly cloudy state,” said Levine. As Governor, rest assured protecting Florida’s precious lands and water won’t be a talking point, but an urgent priority.”
Wages will also be a major focus for him.
“Because when you live on caviar and champagne, you have no right to come down on those who worry about the price of bread,” said Levine. “I know, because I didn’t start life with a silver spoon and a first class ticket, but with $500 and a pocketful of dreams.That’s why I am fighting for a statewide living wage, like the one we passed in Miami Beach, because it’s not fair to ask anyone to work harder and harder, only to fall further and further behind. Because I know, better than anyone, that the most successful companies in the world have employees that are respected, and motivated to succeed.”
The mayor said he will also focus on public schools.
“It’s time to acknowledge that unless we put our teachers and our public schools first, we have no right to say we’re putting children first. Because we’re not,” said Levine.
The mayor did not avoid criticising President Donald Trump and his handling of the response to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.
“It was a moment when Puerto Rico needed a lot more Eisenhower, and a lot less Trump. When the president finally showed up, he descended on the people there with rolls of paper towels, and a boatload of criticism. His message to the people of Puerto Rico, who were fighting to put their lives back together, was to take them apart,” said Levine.
Over the last few months, Levine has put more than $2.6 million of his own money into a political committee and toured the state talking to fellow Democrats and other groups.
Levine built his fortune off a marketing company that began with $500 and expanded to provide in-cabin magazines and television content for cruise lines. It had $400 million in annual revenue when he sold it in 2000.
Levine is now CEO of a similar company that provides media for Royal Caribbean International.
Levine, 55, was elected Miami Beach mayor in 2013 after spending $2 million of his own money on the race.
Other Democrats already in the governor’s race are Andrew Gillum, Mayor of Tallahassee; Gwen Graham, former U.S. Representative and daughter of former Governor Bob Graham; and businessman Chris King.
Gillum issued a statement shortly after Levine’s announcement, saying:
“Our campaign welcomes Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine to the Governor’s Race. After 20 years of Republican control that has left too many Floridians behind, Democrats must continue our contest of ideas to move us forward. We’re looking forward to hearing from Mayor Levine during this Democratic primary, and certainly hopes he accepts our proposal to have at least 6 Democratic debates with cross-talk and rebuttals.”
Republican Governor Rick Scott is leaving office due to term limits.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)