In his final tour of the state leading up to Election Day, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King made campaign and media appearances throughout North Florida this weekend, where he talked about institutional racism and what he says is the state’s broken criminal justice system.
“I’ve talked a lot about race and poverty and so this tour is really my closing argument,” the 39-year-old Winter Park businessman said on Saturday in speaking at the Florida Phoenix’s office in Tallahassee. He says he feels he’s made progress outlining his positions about the sugar industry’s oversized influence on Florida politicians, affordable housing, and promoting free community college, “but this tour is really where I want to make my final argument on institutional racism and racial justice.”
Like every other Democrat in the race, King has trashed the state’s controversial Stand Your Ground law in the wake of the shooting death of 28-year-old Markeis McGlockton last month over a parking dispute in front of a Clearwater convenience store. He released a digital ad last week that featured his remarks from the pulpit at St. John Primitive Baptist Church last week at a rally for McGlockton.
“We have to change a law that is wrong and immoral and indecent,” King says in the ad, looking directly at members of the McGlockton family. “But the second is the harder truth, because it’s easy to change laws. It’s harder to change hearts.”
King is a Christian who hasn’t spoken much about this faith on the campaign trail, acknowledging that some of his fellow Democrats can get feel a bit uneasy when discussing the issue, particularly when it comes to the division between church and state. But he says Democrats have given up too much ground when it comes to faith and family values, and he is the voice to address that.
“Faith and politics in my view has been co-opted and has become weaponized,” he says, adding that while Donald Trump was never a part of the evangelical community, he’s effectively coopted it since becoming president. “I don’t believe any leader can divorce their faith from their leadership,” he says, arguing that if he is the nominee he has “an unusual voice” that can speak to moderates, independents and even some Republicans “because they can see and hear things and they might respond differently than anyone else
in the race.”
With people voting everyday now as election day nears, King knows he has a lot of ground to make up if he’s going to become competitive in the race, with most polls showing him trailing significantly behind the other candidates in the five-person field.
As the only Democratic candidate from the I-4 corridor, there has been talk that he would be an ideal running mate for the ultimate nominee. It’s an issue that he still refuses to address directly, but he does say that if he were the nominee he would beef up the responsibilities for the position, which has become so low-key that most Floridians would probably have a hard time even knowing who the current Lieutenant Governor is (it’s Carlos Lopez-Cantera).
“I would identify somebody who I think is extraordinary and give them a very robust set of responsibilities,” he says.
Until then, he’s riding in the campaign bus and talking to voters during the last leg of his 12-day, 20-county Florida barnstorm.
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