Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine has announced he will not run for a third term and is likely teeing up a run for governor in 2018.
Rumors have long circulated that Levine, a Democrat who was a highly visible surrogate for Hillary Clinton, has his sights set on Tallahassee. A wealthy businessman who made his fortune starting media companies in the cruise industry, Levine first entered politics when he was elected mayor in November 2013. He was reelected to a second two-year term in 2015.
On Thursday morning, he released a video announcement rattling off highlights from his two terms as the Beach’s mayor and stating that he will not run year’s mayoral election.
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“As an entrepreneur who likes to get things done, I also believe in the power of fresh ideas and fresh leadership,” Levine says. “To that end, this will be my last term as the mayor of Miami Beach.”
Levine stops short of announcing a gubernatorial run, but the he says he will explore “ways of how best to serve both my community and my state” — a transition into what walks and talks like a soft launch to a statewide campaign. He makes nonspecific statements about Florida’s economy, the environment and education.
Levine told the Miami Herald he plans to go around Florida on a listening and learning tour this spring before making a final decision.
“Over the coming months, I plan to travel the state to listen, learn and “find Florida,” he said. “I am actually reading T.D. Allman’s book “Finding Florida.” I will make my decision in the spring.”
Gov. Rick Scott is term-limited in 2018. Most Republicans expect Florida Agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam to run.
The Democratic field is getting crowded. Other names circulating statewide as possible Democratic candidates: Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, and trial lawyer John Morgan, who is a leading advocate for the legalization of medical marijuana.