I spoke to Jeff Greene Thursday, to find out what he thinks went wrong with his campaign, which at times seemed to be gaining momentum in the Democratic primary, but ultimately got just a third of the vote. Greene said he wasn’t bitter toward the Florida Democratic Party, which had endorsed Kendrick Meek long before he got into the race, and said he planned to donate the maximum to Meek’s campaign. But he had no such conciliatory attitude toward the media, which he said “libeled” him throughout the campaign, and which he accused of “destroying the country” by driving “the best and brightest” out of politics.
“What does being friends Mike Tyson have to do with becoming a United States Senator?” Greene asked, saying the media was uninterested in talking about other aspects of his background, i.e., his degrees from Johns Hopkins and Harvard Business School, his qualifications or his ideas for fixing the economy. And he said he would be reluctant to advise any of his friends who are successful businesses to follow his lead and run for office in the current media environment. But of all the people and things Greene blames for his defeat, none looms larger than the St. Pete Times, which ran a lengthy piece on August 8th detailing a real estate deal involving Greene and a guy named James McConville, who’s now facing criminal charges for conspiracy and money laundering in a condo flipping scheme in California. Greene said the story libeled him and cost him the election, and he’s suing, and plans to seek damages he said could be as high as $100 million.
The newspapers wrote libelous stories that were completely false, [and] that they knew were completely false. As far as I’m concerned I was ahead by 10 percent before we really started to ramp up our direct mail, but the turning point was when the Times/Herald published a false story about McConville, and we’re going to be suing them for libel. I’m just reading the draft right now. We offered them a chance to correct it and they chose not to. The goal was to assassinate my character and ensure that I lost the election, and to impair my ability to run for office in the future.” Greene said his campaign showed the papers documentation proving he was not involved in any illegality, but rather an “arms length transaction between me and the buyer,” but the paper went ahead with the story anyway.
“They called for an FBI investigation, and said i was disqualified from being a Senator because of a fraudulent real estate deal and they had the documentation. They certainly knew that would be prevent me from being the nominee for the United States Senate. They knew that was the result.”
It may or may not be true that the McConville story sunk Greene (more likely, it was the barrage of negative ads that turned off Democrats.) But the Greene campaign says their internal polling shows they took a big hit as a result of the story, and the prospect of facing a billionaire in court can’t be good news for a member of the struggling newspaper industry. Stay tuned as this one unfolds …
Meanwhile, in other election remainders: Bill McCollum is not over it, and he’s still not sure he’ll join the GOP Kumbaya chorus and endorse Rick Scott. McCollum has a history of post-losing election pique: it took him two weeks to endorse Mel Martinez when Martinez beat him for the Senate nomination in 2006 — and Martinez had to say sowwy.
To the Tuesday primary turnout picture: where Broward County brings up the rear once again, along with the rest of South Florida, which explains in large part why the Democrats lagged the GOP by an uncomfortable margin. Michael Bender at the Palm Beach Post was good enough to compile the stats. The numbers in parens are the rankings of each county by population size. So from the Florida Elections Division, here are the counties among the 67 in the state that had the …
01.) Liberty (67) 51.4 percent
02.) Lafayette (66) 51.0
03.) Jefferson (59) 44.6
04.) Calhoun (61) 39.7
05.) Gulf (60) 39.0
63.) Miami-Dade (1) 17.2
64.) Palm Beach (3) 16.3
65.) Broward (2) 14.7
66.) Osceola (23) 14.1
67.) Holmes (56) 14.1
Meanwhile, as we wait for fresh, post-primary polling, we know that Alex Sink started Primary Day with good looking numbers against Rick Scott, and here’s the TPM polling average. Upshot: Scott starts out very unpopular, Sink starts out ahead.