Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Senate Candidate Talks JaxPort, Banks, Oil; Jeff Greene Is Taking on Kendrick Meek for the Democratic Nomination

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Senate Candidate Talks JaxPort, Banks, Oil; Jeff Greene Is Taking on Kendrick Meek for the Democratic Nomination

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID HUNT

With the Aug. 24 Democratic primary approaching, real estate tycoon Jeff Greene has been trying to grow roots in Jacksonville to support his U.S. Senate run against U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek.

Greene made a splash when he entered the campaign. Forbes estimated his net worth at $2 billion, and he's known for his friendships with boxer Mike Tyson and Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss. But his presence in North Florida, where the Meek camp has worked for months to court union votes, has been slim thus far.

During a stop in Jacksonville last week, he took a few questions from The Times-Union about why he's running.

JACKSONVILLE'S PORTS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR AN ESTIMATED 65,000 JOBS AND $19 BILLION IN ANNUAL ECONOMIC IMPACT. WHAT WOULD YOU DO TO HELP KEEP THE PORT GROWING?

We're going to fight earmarks. I think this earmark culture in Washington is a culture of bribery and corruption. It's diverting funds from important things, like the Port of Jacksonville. The president talked about ... a national infrastructure bank. I think it's a brilliant idea. I don't know why it hasn't been implemented, but I'm sure he has his hands full with the sinking economy, the housing economy and two wars, but it's something I'm going to push for.

YOUR WEBSITE SAYS YOU WANT TO FIGHT CORPORATE EXCESSES AND WALL STREET'S ABUSES. THIS HAS BEEN A TALKING POINT FOR YOUR OPPONENTS, WHO SAY YOU BET AGAINST THE HOUSING MARKET. WHAT'S YOUR SIDE OF THE STORY?

The attacks are unfounded. The housing crisis happened because Congress failed to regulate the lending institutions. I didn't bet against the subprime market. They say I pioneered credit-default swaps, but those were worth $40 trillion the year before I even did it. Credit-default swaps and commodity futures are a very important part of our economy. Think if you are an orange grower and you have to protect your crop. …

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