The Phoenix Flyer

A progressive pair: Gillum chooses former candidate Chris King for running mate

By: - September 6, 2018 11:20 am
R. Jai & Andrew Gillum meet with Chris & Kristen King on Facebook Live
R. Jai & Andrew Gillum meet with Chris & Kristen King on Facebook Live

In what is likely to be dubbed the most progressive gubernatorial ticket in Florida history, Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum announced Thursday that he has chosen Winter Park business executive Chris King to serve as his lieutenant governor.

Gillum made the announcement with King on Facebook Live, where they were joined by their wives, R. Jai Gillum and Kristen King.

King was relatively unknown statewide until he entered the Democratic race for governor last year. And while he earned positive media attention for his platform and ideas, those ideas failed to meet much favor with the voters, as he finished last in last week’s primary election.

In picking King, Gillum is doubling down on ideology, as the two were by far running the most progressive platforms of the five Democrats running for governor this year.

In addition to being a successful affordable housing executive, King also brings something new to the Democratic Party – a candidate who is upfront about his Christian values. In a speech in St. Petersburg last month, he talked about how the Democrats have “given way too much ground on faith and family values.”

“Chris has brought new and dynamic leadership to this state, and his innovative policy ideas and business acumen will help us move forward,” Gillum said in a statement issued to reporters.

“We’re going to build an economy that works for everyone, by training workers for good-paying jobs, expanding access to health care and ensuring every Floridian has a fair chance to succeed. Chris is going to be instrumental in our work to rebuild Florida.”

The 39-year-old King started the Elevation Financial group with his brother Michael in 2006. It focuses on building affordable senior and multifamily housing.

King said in a statement that he and Gillum “share a passion for education and job training that gives people the opportunity to succeed in today’s economy.”

“Together we will stand up to the divisive politics of Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump, and we will offer Floridians a new vision that lifts people up, brings us together and unites this state,” he added.

Asked about the ticket while appearing at a Republican Party unity event in Orlando, Governor Rick Scott called the Gillum-King ticket,” very liberal, very radical and very risky.”

In contrast, “If you want real change in this state, this is your ticket,” tweeted  St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, a Democrat. “No more business as usual.”

The selection of King, a white male from the politically important I-4 corridor, is somewhat of a surprise pick, although his name had been speculated throughout the past week.

The other potential candidates that were mentioned in the media were all females, including several currently serving in the Florida Legislature, as well as former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, who finished just three points behind Gillum in last week’s primary election.

Both candidates named their running mates on Thursday. At the same time that Gillum and King were making news on Facebook Live, the Republican ticket was unveiled in Orlando, with Ron DeSantis announcing his selection of Miami state Rep. Jeanette Nunez.




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Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has covered politics and government in Florida for more than two decades. Most recently he is the former politics reporter for Bay News 9. He has also worked at Florida Politics, Creative Loafing and WMNF Radio in Tampa. He was also part of the original staff when the Florida Phoenix was created in 2018.