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Jeff Greene featured in WaPo: Dem rises in Fla. Senate race despite odd baggage

in Statewide by

Too much baggage for a candidate?

Not for Greene in an antiestablishment year that has been a boon to political outsiders.

A recent poll finds the Palm Beach billionaire has spent his way into a near tie with Rep. Kendrick Meek, who has been in the race for the Democratic nomination for months. While Meek hasn’t bought TV ads so he can conserve his cash, Greene’s heavily circulated commercials describe him as “an outsider willing to take on the career politicians.”

Though Meek has served in public office since his election to the state House in 1994 at age 28, the Miami congressman still struggles with statewide name recognition. So does Greene – but he has the cash to make up the difference.

Greene, 55, says he’ll spend whatever it takes to win. He’s already spent $4 million. Meek’s campaign had almost $4 million in the bank March 31, according to his last federal report, but hasn’t done much TV advertising.

A telemarketing and real estate entrepreneur who has been a millionaire for decades, Greene shot into billionaire status in the housing market collapse. Forbes estimated his fortune at $1.25 billion last year and listed him at No. 317 on its list of richest Americans. He was among the few who foresaw that the housing bubble would burst and jumped on the winning end of complex financial derivatives that collapsed some Wall Street investment banks.

Great for his business, but not a story that would endear him to some voters. Yet Greene is among several superrich business leaders in contention for seats against political mainstays. Former eBay CEO and President Meg Whitman and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina have captured the GOP nomination for governor and Senate in California. Rick Scott, who made millions running a hospital chain, suddenly is making a strong run in Florida’s gubernatorial race. Continue reading here.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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