Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene jumped into the governor’s race as he gears up for a second bid for statewide office.
Greene filed his paperwork with the state to run for governor.
The billionaire candidate has an interesting past including aspects of modern celebrity and a Horatio Alger tale. Growing up in a middle class environment, Greene held some odd jobs, waiting tables at the Breakers and working for a traveling circus before making his fortune, which is well over $1 billion, in real estate. Greene added to his wealth by investing in credit default swaps, investing against sub-prime mortgages. Greene has also hobnobbed with celebrities including a tangled lawsuit against actor and director Ron Howard, having Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss living on his property for a year and having controversial heavyweight great Mike Tyson as the best man at his wedding in 2008.
While he grew up in Florida as a Democrat, Greene drifted over to the Republican ranks during his time in grad school, going for his MBA at the Harvard Business School. Greene ran in the Republican primary for a congressional seat in California back in 1982 but was unsuccessful in winning the nomination. Since that time, he has returned to the Democrats. In 2010, Greene pulled 31 percent in the Democratic primary in a race for an open U.S. Senate seat but lost to then U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meeks, D-Fla., who took 57 percent.
With Gov. Rick Scott facing term limits, Greene joins a crowded Democratic primary which also includes Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, Central Florida businessman Chris King and former Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine. Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., who lost to U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., in 2016, is a possible candidate.
Gillum weighed in on Greene getting in the race Monday morning and looked to contrast his background with the other candidates.
“I welcome Jeff Greene to this race to become Florida’s next governor,” Gillum said. “As the son of a construction worker and bus driver, and still the only non-millionaire Democrat in our primary, I believe Florida Democrats need a true champion for working people as their nominee. I look forward to continuing this contest of ideas with Jeff in the field.”