Democratic candidates for governor tried to separate themselves from the five-person pack Thursday night in a debate in Palm Beach Gardens.
Nearly 25 minutes into the debate, the first personal challenge, entrepreneur Chris King taking on former northern Florida congresswoman Gwen Graham, and her family’s ties, to the massive mall development in Miami-Dade.
“A mega-mall, the largest mall in the country that will be a Mecca for low wage jobs. Built on the edge of the Everglades. You can’t make this stuff up,” King said.
“I have removed myself from the family company. I have taken the steps to put everything that I have into a trust. And I will make sure that wages under my administration, they will be $15 an hour wages,” Graham responded.
Former Miami Beach Mayor Phillip Levine took on businessman Jeff Greene on his relationship with Donald Trump.
“I gotta tell you something, seriously, that sounds more like your like Donald Trump and I gotta tell ya, one Donald Trump is enough there Jeff,” Levine said.
“When I was running for United States Senate in 2010, you gave money to (Republican) Marco Rubio!” Greene responded.
Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum never answered a question if he was a democratic socialist, like Bernie Sanders who recently endorsed him. He instead focused on the living wage.
“We’ve gotta improve this economy by truthfully recognizing that Florida can’t just be a cheap date state. We got to pay people what they’re worth and it’s one of the reasons why I have come out with an initiative that we train our young people on apprenticeships,” Gillum said.
Our political expert Brian Crowley said the debate didn’t leave voters with someone with any distinct policy differences.
“The difference has become things like Jeff Greene talking about he’s got more money to spend on the campaign than other guys have, Gwen Graham pointing out she’s the mom in the campaign. Those are the kinds of differences and they’re more style difference than they are substance differences and often that helps decide an election,” Crowley said.
The last time a Democrat was governor in Florida was 20 years ago.