The parents of two students who were killed during the Parkland, Fla., school shooting in February have endorsed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine.
Patricia and Manuel Oliver, the parents of Joaquin Oliver, and Fred Guttenberg, the father of Jaime Guttenberg, threw their support behind Levine in a pair of 30-second television ads that will begin airing this week, The Sun-Sentinel newspaper reported Monday.
“Sadly but true, I cannot protect Joaquin anymore,” Manuel Oliver said in one of the ads. “We are together and we're going to keep this fight for the rest of our lives. I really believe that Philip is a doer and can show it — he’s part of that team that we are looking for. That’s why we’re voting for Philip Levine.”
The Olivers ask “every parent” to join them in voting for Levine, months after their son became one of 17 people killed by a gunman inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
The Olivers and Fred Guttenberg have become vocal gun control activists since the Valentine’s Day mass shooting, with both fathers protesting the National Rifle Association's (NRA) annual convention in Dallas in May.
In another Levine ad, Guttenberg said he is dedicating his life to “taking on anyone who won’t do anything about it — the president, the NRA, and the do-nothing politicians.”
“That’s why we need Philip Levine — like me, he not only demanded stronger gun laws, but he marched on Tallahassee to make it happen. Levine’s a doer, not a talker,” Guttenberg said, referring to one of the first major gun control rallies to the state’s capital following the shooting.
Levine, the former mayor of Miami Beach, is one of five Democrats competing for the party's nomination ahead of the Aug. 28 primary.
Recent polls indicate that Levine is tied for second place with Jeff Greene, a billionaire real estate investor.
Former Rep. Gwen GrahamGwendolyn GrahamFlorida Democrats' midterm fantasy faceoff: DeSantis vs. Demings Moderate Democrats now in a race against the clock Dear Iowans: Apologies for Sen. Rick Scott's lack of decency MORE is leading the group of Democrats, with a 16-point lead over Levine, according to an ALG Research poll released on Monday.
The newspaper noted that Levine's stance on gun issues is similar to that of his blue opponents — they all criticize the NRA, they want to outlaw assault weapons like the one used in the Parkland shooting and they have criticized the state’s Stand Your Ground law.
The law made headlines last month after police announced that a Florida man who fatally shot another man in a parking lot following an argument will not face charges.