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Young Democrats laud Chris King, Carlos Smith, Emma Collum

The Florida Young Democrats have named gubernatorial candidate Chris King as their pick for “trailblazing candidate of the year” and honored state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Florida House candidate Emma Collum with other awards.

The awards were announced Thursday as the results of a survey of members of the organization, but do not represent endorsements from the Young Dems. The endorsements, decided by the organization’s board, will be announced Monday.

Nonetheless, the awards may signal support for the candidates among Democratic millennials. The organization is open to Democrats under the age of 40, and most of the awards are for Democrats under the age of 40, though that’s more of a guideline than a rule.

King is being given the organization’s Young Democrat Trailblazer Candidate of the Year for “leading the conversation on statewide youth issues, such as criminal justice reform, affordable housing and marijuana legalization.”

Among the four major Democrats running for governor, only King, 39, and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, 38, were strictly eligible. Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham is 55, and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine is 56.

Smith, 37, who represents Florida House District 49 in Orlando, was named “elected official of the year.”

Collum, who is running for Florida House District 93, was honored for her activism, receiving the “activist of the year award” for founding Women’s March Florida and heading up field operations for the national Women’s March Inc.

Among other awards:

– Chapter of the Year: Palm Beach County Young Democrats;

– Florida Democrat of the Year: Terrie Rizzo, chair of the Florida Democratic Party

– Young Democrat of the Year: Kilan Ashad-Bishop – president of the Miami-Dade Young Democrats, chair of the 2018 Florida Young Democrats Annual Convention

“The leaders that we have honored this year are powering a grassroots machine that will bring us a blue wave in 2018,” YoungDems President Jake Sanders stated in a news release. “From Chris King, who has shaped the debate with bold, fresh policies that bring our youth issues to the forefront to State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, who has brought a new energy to Tallahassee while standing unapologetically by his principles.”

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at

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