2 Democratic gubernatorial candidates debate in Miami Gardens

Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene makes first debate appearance

By Tim Swift - Local10.com Digital Editor

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - Two of Florida's Democratic gubernatorial candidates -- Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene -- were largely in agreement on the major issues as they faced off in a debate Monday in Miami Gardens.

Hosted by Local 10 News senior political reporter Michael Putney, the forum at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church marked the first debate appearance for Greene, who entered the race earlier this month. 

The other Democratic candidates -- former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, Orlando businessman Chris King and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine -- were unable to attend the debate.

Issues discussed included expanding Medicare in Florida, properly funding the state's public schools, and making affordable housing more accessible.

Of particular focus because of the location of the debate was strengthening Florida's gun laws. Miami Gardens has seen a spate of fatal shootings over the past two weeks.

"The less guns the better," Greene said, calling for the immediate ban of assault weapons.

Greene told the audience he entered the race late because the other Democratic candidates weren't connecting with voters.

Greene argued he was the best candidate for Democrats because he has the most resources to compete in what will be a costly general election.

"(Democrats) always had great ideas for 20 years," Greene said. "We've had Republican governors for 20 years. It's going to take the resources, and my wife and I are willing put the resources up."

Greene also pledged to help other Democrats.

Gillum had a quick retort.

"I do hope when I win the Democratic nomination that you'll be generous ... to put the resources into helping us win this state," Gillum said as the crowd laughed.

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