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Chris King still pushing ideas as campaign end appears to loom

Democrat Chris King started his run for Governor in his own back yard — literally — declaring he would run a race based on ideas and detailed plans for a progressive governorship.

On Wednesday, he came home where it started, back to the Hillcrest Hampton House Senior Center he owns in Orlando, still pushing those ideas.

“I promised that before this election was ended, I would come back around, and come back here,” King told a gathering of mostly senior citizen residents of the Hillcrest Hampton House. “We are just days away from a historic election, and I’m in a tough race. We’ve got, I’d say, billionaires and bazillionaires down south, we’ve got people with famous families.”

And they’ve got commanding leads over him.

All recent polls of the five-person Democratic primary race show that King’s campaign is the political equivalent of being at least two touchdowns behind with 20 seconds left on the clock. And though everyone knows it, there’s no acknowledgment that victory isn’t possible — because there’s always hope for a Hail Mary, an onside kick recovery, and another Hail Mary.

Still, there’s already talk of a game played right.

“But what I think has set us apart in this race and has made us special if you’ve followed it closely, is we are trying to bring the best ideas,” King told the seniors, ticking off a few, including his detailed plans for affordable housing, justice reform, free community college and trade schools, and environmental protection.

All recent polls have the Winter Park businessman, once seen as a viable candidate, running a distant fifth out of five Democrats, typically pulling only single-digit support, sometimes as high as 10, sometimes as low as 2. That, after 17 months of campaigning.

The race now appears to be either former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine‘s or former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham‘s to lose; with Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum making a late charge from well back, and Palm Beach businessman Jeff Greene is falling out of contention, but still staying ahead of King.

King said Wednesday he’s trying to close on ideas, specifically on his ideas for justice reform, civil rights and fairness, “and so I’m ending with taking on what I call institutional racism in the state of Florida, taking on laws and policies that are not fair for people based on the color of their skin or where they’re from.”

That has focused much of his activities over the past couple of weeks and into the next six days. Meeting with the family of slain “Stand Your Ground” victim Markeis McGlockton in Clearwater. Speaking before a Muslim conference in Orlando. Calling for removal of a Confederate monument in Walton County. Talking about the history of lynchings with the NAACP at “the hanging tree” in Hernando County. And joining a protest Wednesday outside the office of Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg, after his anti-Muslim social media comments.

“And it’s been so gratifying,” King added.

King also laid out some of the things he said made him an unusual candidate, and one elderly woman in the group called out: “You’re better looking!”

There’s always that.

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 scott@floridapolitics.com.

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