Florida governor candidate Philip Levine thinks minimum wage should be left up to cities


In a talk with reporters at Tallahassee’s Tiger Bay Club, a nonpartisan forum for political discussions, Democratic gubernatorial candidate and former Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine expressed a few key aspects of what his administration would look like.

Particularly, he noted how his administration would fight to maintain power and return it to local governments.

“Government works best when it’s closest to the people,” Levine reportedly told those in attendance, tipping his hat to the ideology of Thomas Jefferson. “I believe that’s what we need to get back to.”

Levine also elaborated on other issues, such as minimum wage, vacation rentals and gun restrictions.

As for the state’s minimum wage, Levine said he’d raise the minimum wage to a higher floor and give municipalities the option to increase it further.

“My belief is that we need a higher minimum wage,” Levine said. “I don’t know if it’s [$]15 in Pensacola, but I do know it’s [$]13.31 in Miami Beach.”

In terms of what to do about Florida’s vacation rentals, like Airbnb, Levine said he’d allow local governments to decide on what to do about short-term rentals, such as requiring them to comply with local zoning restrictions. (It wouldn’t make for Levine’s first complicated run-in with the temporary lodging company.)

“Airbnb is a fantastic company, but the people in Miami Beach don’t want Airbnb because some people just don’t want a hotel next to their house.  Airbnb may work just perfectly in Pensacola but it should be a local issue,” Levine said.

Touching on the determination of gun restrictions at the local level, Levine referred those in attendance back to his time as Miami Beach mayor, when the municipality passed its own assault rifle ban, and how Florida currently preempts all gun restrictions.

“We passed an assault rifle ban in Miami Beach a while back,” Levine said. “We had a fight with Tallahassee through preemption.”

It comes as little surprise that Levine would try to further push these talking points on his behalf, especially in light of this particular political moment. The former Miami Beach mayor’s profile as a potential candidate in the Democratic playing field has only just begun to rise, as recent polls have demonstrated. An example: According to a poll released by Public Policy Polling earlier today, Levine has so far become the leading choice in the Democratic primary.

According to the poll, Levine is currently favored by 22 percent of those surveyed, slightly ahead of former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, who’s been viewed as an establishment favorite, at 19 percent. Both are well ahead of Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who’s currently sitting at 8 percent, while Winter Park businessman Chris King is trailing with a mere 5 percent.

The poll states that 46 percent of those surveyed remain undecided.

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