April 30th, 2010
08:16 AM ET
4 years ago

New candidate in crazy Florida Senate race

 Billionaire real estate investor Jeff Greene launched a bid for the Democratic Senate nomination in Florida on Friday.
Billionaire real estate investor Jeff Greene launched a bid for the Democratic Senate nomination in Florida on Friday.

(CNN) – A day after one candidate dropped out of the race for the Republican Senate nomination in Florida, a new candidate jumped into the hunt for the Democratic nomination.

Florida real estate investor Jeff Greene launched his bid Friday, a day after Florida Gov. Charlie Crist announced he would no longer run for the Republican Senate nomination and instead would continue his campaign as an independent candidate - leaving former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio as the sole GOP contender.

Greene appears to be running as an outsider.

"I'm just as frustrated as you are. That's why I am running for Senate this year. For too long, the career politicians we've sent to Washington have played partisan games and have failed us." Greene told Florida voters in a press release and video announcing his candidacy. "I am an outsider, the only candidate who isn't a career politician."

While Greene is new to the game, he does appear to have a big advantage over the leading Democratic candidate in the race, Rep. Kendrick Meek. And that advantage is money. Greene's a billionaire and if he spends his cash freely in the Senate bid, it will come in very handy in a state as large as Florida, with multiple expensive media markets.

Greene's campaign tells CNN that the candidate is willing to spend whatever it takes to win the seat. A statement from the campaign says he'll refuse campaign contributions from special interests, and will limit individual donations to $100.

Greene, 55, made millions investing in real estate and multiplied that money by investing in credit-default swaps during the real estate bubble of recent years.

That could come up in his campaign, as could his personal life. According to a Forbes profile of him from a year and a half ago, Mike Tyson was best man at Greene's 2007 wedding and he put up friend and former Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss as a house guest for a year.

UPDATE 4:05 p.m: Meek's campaign put out a statement Friday afternoon reacting to Greene's entry into the race.

"I'm running for the Senate to stop Wall Street from ever again wrecking the Florida economy. Jeff Greene profited from the misery of millions of Americans who lost their home equity, if not their homes. That's not the kind of candidate the Democratic party needs, and it's not the kind of senator Florida needs," says Meek in a statement.

–Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn


Filed under: 2010 • Florida
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. greg morris in jacksonville fl

    So he is against career politicians, but not against buying his way into the senate. save your money mr greene, we already dont like the message you are sending. this is not a game of the richest man wins. yet another reason why we need campaign finance reform!!!

    April 30, 2010 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  2. Ben in Texas

    "I'm not a career politician. I'm just a humble billionaire real estate developer."

    Boy, that comforts me a lot. He'll really understand the common man and woman. About the only good part is that, as a billionaire, he won't be bought. Or at least, he won't be bought cheaply.

    April 30, 2010 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  3. sifto77

    Why should the Dems let this man run? Doesn't he make "too much money" by Obama standards?

    April 30, 2010 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  4. Anonymous

    Another way to help Crist get in office!
    Let this man spend his money- he will have no chance to win but will certianly get some votes.
    Tell Heidi I said hi!

    April 30, 2010 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  5. John Soldner

    Ha! A republican attempt to steal votes on the Democratic side. Crist leaving must have really hurt Rubio's chances...

    April 30, 2010 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  6. Jan

    So he has Mike and Hedi as friends.

    So as most other politicians who also have friends in HIGH places.

    Whats new?

    April 30, 2010 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  7. katiec

    Wow, you mean the Democrats have someone running in Florida?
    This is the first mention by CNN as the republicans have had constant headlines, which is nothing new.
    Once the race gets on it's feet will hope for equal representation by CNN but will not hold my breath.

    April 30, 2010 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  8. FloridaMom

    Is Greene a lifelong democrat?
    I find this all to be a little too convenient.

    April 30, 2010 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  9. FLgold

    Its time for the Dems (I am a liberal one) to get smart build a fusion ticket – running Crist as the independent and the dem candidiate. Trouncing these righties is the first order of business. The current unknown hve little chance anyway

    April 30, 2010 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  10. Holding Up A Mirror

    Clearly a guy with a agenda other than getting himself [or Mr. Meeks] elected.

    April 30, 2010 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  11. Michael Armstrong Sr.

    This is what America needs new blood instead of the same old people changing suits to look better to the public you can change suits but its the same person wearing it .

    April 30, 2010 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  12. Steverino

    Democrat? Yeah, right. And I'm the pope. Least this joker could do would be to run under his true (right-wing) party flag.

    April 30, 2010 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  13. Hows that oil slick coming along drillers?

    No,hes just a used house salesman and huckster looking to fill another bag of dirty money.

    April 30, 2010 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  14. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Greene, 55, made millions investing in real estate and multiplied that money by investing in credit-default swaps during the real estate bubble of recent years.

    I'll stick with Meeks. This guy got rich off the shady deals made by Wall St. He does not belong in U.S. Senate.

    April 30, 2010 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  15. PaulC

    This is certainly a case where "none of the above" is appropriate.
    We have a wide open field of political hacks campaigning as reformers.
    I wouldn't give you a nickel for a sack full but I must vote for one otherwise the terrorists win.

    April 30, 2010 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  16. beth

    If there is a Democratic primary, I'm voting for Kendrick Meek. On the positive side, Greene's entrace in the race will bring some high profile attention to Kendrick.

    April 30, 2010 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  17. Steve (the real one)

    According to a Forbes profile of him from a year and a half ago, Mike Tyson was best man at Greene's 2007 wedding and he put up friend and former Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss as a house guest for a year.
    --------------
    This guy has 2 strikes against him already and he isn't even up to bat yet, not even in the game, didn't make the team!

    April 30, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  18. Sgt. USMC

    He doesn't believe in special interest and is tired of career politicians yet he is trying to BUY the senate seat. Sounds like a politician to me.

    It's crazy, just anyone with an opinion can't be a politician people, even billionaires.

    April 30, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  19. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Let's see if the money that he earned from real estate doesn't hurt him since I bet that some of the credit-default swaps he earned money on were based on sub-prime mortgages. I know that there will be someone who doesn't like that.

    April 30, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  20. Kathy

    From what I've read, Fleiss lived in his GUEST house after Tom Sizemore was arrested & convicted for beating and harassing her ... Greene sounds like a stand-up guy!

    April 30, 2010 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  21. joe smith

    good on him..if someone, mr greene or someone wanted to secure their place in American politics, win the Noble prize, etc..take the INS, and completely dismantle it, revise it, whatever.make it fair, but flexible, that person would, and could dominate the political landscape for a long time..but,,where is that person..certainly not in this administration, or anywhere on the horizon..

    April 30, 2010 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  22. Cindy

    I'd vote for him. An outsider is what we need to take this country back from the lobbyists. Has his own money and doesn't care if you know who his real friends are. A breath of fresh air.

    April 30, 2010 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  23. Charles W. Skinner

    Oooo.... The race for the Democrat nomination for Florida Senate just got interesting. This is going to damage the Meek candidacy, VERY badly due to the money that Meek will have to spend. Without big-name challengers early on, Crist and Rubio won't have to fight their own party early on. But Crist is going to run out of money, as he won't have the backing of the RNC or RNSC, while Rubio will have their support, as well as the rising support of the TEA Party members, along with all their extra enthusiasm. This should tip the balance to Rubio to become the next Senator from Florida.

    April 30, 2010 10:58 am at 10:58 am |