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Candidate For Governor Holds 'Campus Conversation' In St. Pete

Roberto Roldan
WUSF Public Media
Philip Levine, former Mayor of Miami Beach, is currently a front-runner in a crowded gubernatorial Democratic primary.

As gubernatorial candidates start ramping up their primary campaigns, Democrat Philip Levine made a stop in St. Petersburg to gauge students' priorities.

Levine sat in a circle with about a dozen students at St. Petersburg College on Thursday, fielding questions about gun control, environmental protection and student debt.  He calls these intimate events "campus conversations."

Levine touted his record as the former mayor of Miami Beach, telling students he has acted on the issues that matter most to young people.

"You have folks out there who talk about progressive things and I believe I'm the candidate that's actually done these progressive things," He said. "I've actually raised the minimum wage in Miami Beach. I've actually reformed a police department."

Levine also told students that, if elected governor, he would push for an assault weapons ban and the creation of a minimum wage tied to the cost of living in individual regions.

He called himself the "progressive and pro-business" candidate and said action on typically progressive issues is what will attract more jobs to the state.

"The last thing I've ever heard is 'Oh Florida, that's a high tax state,'" he said. "I've never heard that one. I've heard 'You've got bad education, your infrastructure stinks and you have no public transportation.'"

Levine, who is a self-made millionaire, has so far self-funded much of his campaign.

Mhariel Summers, a student at St. Pete College, said she thought Levine came off as genuine and liked that he was refusing to take money from big corporations.

"He sounds like an individual who's speaking from his heart and from his own personal experience," she said. "He's not speaking as a guy who is influenced by someone else's dollars."

The latest polls show Levine as a front-runner in a Democratic primary against a slate of candidates that includes Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and former Congresswoman Gwen Graham.


Roberto Roldan is a senior at the University of South Florida pursuing a degree in mass communications and a minor in international studies.