Miami-Dade’s senior Republican, Mayor Carlos Gimenez, is backing the county’s hometown candidate for Florida governor, Democrat Philip Levine.
Earlier this month, Gimenez filed a county form disclosing he was soliciting contributions for All About Florida, a political committee supporting Levine, a former Miami Beach mayor. Levine supported Gimenez in the 2016 county mayoral race against another Republican, former school board member Raquel Regalado. County offices are nonpartisan, as is the post of Miami Beach mayor.
On Tuesday, Gimenez communications chief Myriam Marquez confirmed the mayor is backing Levine in his primary fight against Gwen Graham, a former member of Congress for the Panhandle area; Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum; Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene and others from outside the Miami area.
“He knows him. They’ve worked on some projects together,” Marquez said of Gimenez’s relationship with Levine. “He’s supporting him in the Democratic primary. Whether he is supporting him in the general election remains to be seen.”
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Marquez said she wasn’t aware if Gimenez was backing a candidate for his own party’s gubernatorial primary between state agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, whose district centers around Daytona Beach.
Gimenez became a target for Miami-Dade Democrats after he ordered that county jails resume accepting federal detention requests for immigration offenders days after President Donald Trump took office and pledged a crackdown on so-called “sanctuary” jurisdictions. A bipartisan group of Miami-Dade commissioners later endorsed the mayor’s decision in a 9-3 vote.
He also raised a record $7 million for his successful reelection campaign in 2016, and is a sought-after fundraiser in Miami-Dade. County rules require elected officials and candidates to register with Miami-Dade when they raise money for political committees, and Gimenez has signed up to support seven committees this year in local and state races. The only one known to be supporting a Democrat in a state race is All About Florida. Gimenez is also raising money for Alliance for a Better Community, a political committee supporting the reelection of Jean Monestime, a Democrat who faces fellow Democrat Dorrin Rolle in the non-partisan District 2 race for county commission.
Christian Ulvert, Levine’s campaign consultant, said Gimenez is not campaigning for Levine and has not officially endorsed the former Miami Beach mayor. “The mayor offered to fund-raise for Mayor Levine, and we welcome and appreciate his efforts,” Ulvert said.
Tuesday evening, Gillum’s Twitter account posted an earlier version of this story and slammed Levine for aligning himself with Gimenez, citing Miami-Dade’s policy of accepting the federal detention requests. “When I say I will stand up against @realDonaldTrump and his racist immigration crackdowns, I really mean it,” Gillum wrote in the post.
This post was updated to include Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s fund-raising support for Miami-Dade Commissioner Jean Monestime, a Democrat running in a non-partisan race.