Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine has staked his presence in the I-4 corridor with the announced hiring Wednesday of Jonathan Santiago as his Central Florida regional coordinator.

Santiago has worked as a Central Florida regional organizer on the last two statewide operations for Hillary For America’s 2016 Florida team and the Crist for Governor campaign in 2014.

“Jonathan is a veteran of Central Florida politics whose organizing and grassroots knowledge will enforce the campaign’s mission to reach voters in every community across the state,” Levine’s Campaign Manager Matthew Van Name stated in a news release. “We’re excited to expand our team with dynamic young talent that will allow the campaign to build momentum and continue its strategy of engaging with voters in all of Florida’s 67 counties.”

The move by Levine, who is based in Miami, comes as Democratic rivals Chris King and Gwen Graham established their campaign headquarters in Orlando, the critical Democratic fulcrum in the always-critical I-4 Corridor. Fourth Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum also staked his own presence Tuesday night with a downtown rally featuring a rousing introduction from state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, the Orlando Democrat who chairs the state Legislative Progressive Caucus.

“I am fired up and ready to get to work to elect Mayor Philip Levine as our next Democratic governor of Florida because his record shows someone who will fight for all communities, including mine,” Santiago stated in the release.  “We saw firsthand last year how Mayor Levine stepped in to help mobilize relief efforts for Puerto Ricans and took on Donald Trump when his administration failed to act swiftly. There is no doubt that the people are ready for change in the Governor’s mansion in 2018 and I am ready to put in the elbow grease and work hard to elect someone who will govern in a way that truly reflects the values of our diverse communities across our state.”

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