Leading Jacksonville Democrat Lisa King, a state committeewoman from Duval County and former chair of the city’s Planning Commission, officially announced her candidacy for the chair of the Florida Democratic Party on Wednesday.
King is positioned as a change agent in a change cycle, and sees one of her strengths as knowing how to reach the grassroots of the party — something that has been identified as a weakness in recent months.
“For too long we have resisted change. I believe as Chair I will deliver the change we need to empower the grassroots and promote engagement that will drive us to victories for our values. I’m asking my fellow Democrats for their support and to join me in building this together.” King asserted.
Engagement is a leit motif of the King campaign.
“We can’t start talking to communities of color in October and expect to win elections in November. Community engagement must be year round.” King maintained.
For King, the future of the party is rooted in the meaningful populist coalitions of the past. She sums up her reason for running with this quote: “A party that stands for nothing, falls for everything and accumulates only frustration. We must clearly articulate the issues of working families and our candidates must run on those issues.”
King, a delegate for Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention, ran the North Florida campaign for the Democratic nominee.
In the city of Jacksonville, Clinton actually beat Donald Trump by 1,147 votes, as Duval County overall was a bright spot for the Clinton campaign.
King helped to make that happen by ensuring that supporters of Bernie Sanders had a seat at the table, and ensuring that “local talent” and “not people from out of state” had key roles in Jacksonville.
Sanders and Clinton supporters, friends before the primary, managed to stay friends afterwards, with some Sanders alums even working as Clinton field organizers in the general election.
Though King was able to play a key role in fostering party unity, she saw what happened when unity was discarded as a key principle, when Debbie Wasserman Schultz was jeered by the Florida Delegation at a breakfast during the convention.
The “anger and disconnectedness” King saw “changed [her] point of view regarding the problems of the party.”
“We don’t empower people,” King said. “If we continue down this road, we cannot win elections [and] serve working families.”
King has the full support of new Duval Democratic Party Chair, Audrey Gibson, and has a lot of confidence in her ability to compete in this race.
She sees the voter pool of 300 or so as the people who have to be convinced, in one-on-one conversations.
And she tells us she’s already had “conversations with people all around the state” that have been encouraging.
The near-term test: what kind of commitments those conversations translate into.
“Until you have a signed commitment,” King sayd, “it’s meaningless.”
King has run against the odds before, running a strong Democratic campaign for Jacksonville’s City Council in a deep red area in 2015.
King got Chamber Republican support, and though she lost the race, she outperformed Democrats elsewhere on the ticket.
Similarly, King was willing to battle Mayor Lenny Curry during what Democrats called a “purge” of city boards and commissions.
The former RPOF chair compelled King to resign, and she refused.
Though King’s replacement was voted in by the city council, her principled stand against what she saw as injustice drew media attention to the process.