The field of candidates in Miami Beach’s upcoming election shrunk even more Friday, with a second candidate dropping from the race within hours of another candidate’s disqualification over an alleged residency violation.
Greg Branch, a commission candidate in Group 1, withdrew his candidacy Friday afternoon to, he said, accept a TV contract as a featured contributor discussing financial markets for an undisclosed network. Branch, who regularly appears on TV as an unpaid market analyst, said the contract offer stipulated elected officials could not hold the position.
He said he received the offer about six weeks ago, and decided Friday with his wife that the TV gig was a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity he couldn’t pass up, even after qualifying for the Nov. 2 race earlier this month. In an interview, he thanked his supporters and said he would remain involved in the community.
“At the end of the day I was presented something that I’ve dreamed about for decades, an opportunity that I had envisioned and hoped for, for decades,” Branch said.
His withdrawal leaves four candidates in Group 1: Adrian Gonzalez, Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, Raquel Pacheco and Blake Young. Voters will still see Branch’s name on their ballot because the deadline to change the ballots has passed.
To avoid confusion, Miami-Dade County’s Elections Department will send notices of the withdrawal to voters casting their ballots by mail and post notices at voting precincts. Any votes cast for Branch will not count.
Branch, the vice chairman of the Miami Beach Black Affairs Committee, founded the financial services firm Veritas Financial in Miami Beach, where he is a managing partner. He is also a partner at 1847Financial in Pennsylvania.
He would not reveal what network he would sign with but offered a hint: It’s one of the networks where he currently appears, which are Fox Business, CNBC and Bloomberg TV.
“At the end of the day my wife and I, while we regret this decision, we feel like the city will be in good hands,” Branch said.
Branch wasn’t the only candidate to leave his race Friday. Group 2 candidate Fabián Basabe was disqualified earlier Friday after a Miami-Dade Circuit judge found that Basabe did not meet a one-year residency requirement to run for office. Basabe’s disqualification secured reelection for Commissioner Mark Samuelian, who is now unopposed in the race.
Branch, who was running for office for the first time, said he doesn’t think he will run again due to the “vitriol” he said he and his family experienced during the campaign.
“None of this belongs anywhere in our politics,” he said.
Commissioner David Richardson, who endorsed Branch in the election, said in a statement that he hopes Branch runs again.
“While the city will not benefit from his skills immediately, I hope that he will consider offering his service again in the future,” Richardson.