Playing to progressives & young voters, Andrew Gillum taps Chris King as running mate

King Gillum

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum on Thursday chose a rival from the primary, Winter Park businessman Chris King, as his Lieutenant Governor.

Gillum and King bonded on the campaign trail to the degree that they mulled a joint ticket when each campaign appeared to lack traction.

Now, of course, Gillum has the nomination — and the joint ticket is a reality.

Gillum had an array of candidates to consider, including state Rep. Amy Mercado (who would have had Central Florida and Puerto Rican appeal), Gwen Graham (who garnered 31 percent of the vote in the primary, with appeal in rural areas especially), and state Sen. Lauren Book (minority-leader pro tempore of the party).

Yet Gillum has chosen a candidate who, though he never caught fire with Democrats looking at the top of the ticket, ran an ideas-driven campaign that moved the conversation forward on issues key both to progressives and young voters.

Clearly, the Gillum campaign bets that the race to win the governorship can be won by consolidating the party’s left flank.

Democrats, including at least one who was in the LG discussion, lauded the pick.

“It’s hard to imagine the 2018 ticket getting any better for Florida Democrats, but it just did. With Chris King as his running mate, Andrew Gillum is shaking up this race and giving voters something to believe in. Best gubernatorial ticket I’ve seen in my lifetime,” asserted Rep. Carlos G. Smith Thursday after the pick was reported.

CFO candidate Jeremy Ring likewise lauded the King pick: “Over the course of this last year I’ve gotten to know Chris King well and it’s no surprise to me why soon to be Governor Andrew Gillum wanted him to be part of this ticket. From bringing fresh leadership and innovative ideas throughout this campaign to his work to build a better Florida for everyone as an entrepreneur, Chris is exactly the type of person Tallahassee needs and will be the Lieutenant Governor Floridians deserve.”

Even before Gillum rolled out the King pick via Facebook Live, the campaign website was already live as of 9:20 a.m. Thursday, complete with an aspirational message.

“Join Andrew Gillum and Chris King today,” the page states. “This is a movement for Florida’s future.”

Gillum noted that he had “prayed about” the Lieutenant Governor pick, and “leaned into wanting to choose an individual who could be governor … a partner to help lead this state.”

Gillum and King, along with their wives, addressed Democrats, with Mrs. King and Mrs. Gillum vowing to hit the trail together to make the case for the Democratic ticket. What is clear: the families will be co-branded through the election.

“This is not a political marriage, a marriage of convenience,” Chris King said, noting that he cares for Gillum, a “champion” for working families across the state.

From gun violence to criminal justice, King said, he and Gillum believe that the state can do “better.”

“My heart is really full,” Mayor Gillum said. “This race is about where we want to go as a state.”

Statements after the Facebook Live wrapped reinforced the symbiosis. Gillum lauded King for “new and dynamic leadership … innovative policy ideas and business acumen.” And King vowed the ticket would “stand up to the divisive politics of Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump … offer Floridians a new vision that lifts people up, brings us all together and unites this state.”

Though few forecast a Gillum/King ticket when both were polling in single digits throughout much of the primary slog, Florida Democratic Party chair Terrie Rizzo spoke to the new consensus.

“Gillum and Chris King represent the future [of] our state: energetic, innovative, and ready to fight for Florida’s working families,” Rizzo noted.

Beyond ideological alignment, there are practical considerations regarding loyalty between the two men.

King was one of Gillum’s biggest defenders during the primary, coming to his defense during one of the Democratic debates when the FBI probe into Tallahassee City Hall. Gillum has maintained throughout his candidacy that he is not a target of the investigation and that the city government itself is not under investigation, just an “individual.”

DeSantis, the Republican nominee, picked Rep. Jeanette Nuñez as his running mate Thursday. Minutes after she was picked, reporters unearthed a “#NeverTrump” tweet of hers from 2016.

Nuñez’s relative fealty to Trump notwithstanding, Democratic chair Rizzo notes the stark difference between the two LG picks.

“The contrast between the Gillum-King and DeSantis-Nuñez ticket could not be greater. Chris King is a progressive entrepreneur with innovative policy ideas to move us forward — while Jeanette Nuñez is a long-time Republican insider and lobbyist,” Rizzo said, citing differences on abortion rights and Medicaid expansion between the two.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Robert Barnett

    September 6, 2018 at 10:10 am

    I think Gwen Graham would have been a better pick but I support the ticket 100%.Defeat Desantis.

    • Franciscus

      September 6, 2018 at 10:34 am

      Who says Mrs Graham would have wanted to be a “Lt” Governor, especially after having been a US Congresswoman?

      He made a great pick and Graham can still lend her support.

    • Nordonia Nate

      September 7, 2018 at 11:22 am

      Why do you support the ticket? What part of the strategies you believe will help Florida? When itcomes comes to financing the proposed agenda, where do you believe the money will come from to pay for it?

  • Shanique Scott

    September 6, 2018 at 10:36 am

    I think Chris King was the right pick, these two men have the passion and drive to move our State forward!!! Yes let’s win in November!!! And keep praying!!

    • Dimitri Oriol

      September 6, 2018 at 2:11 pm

      Florida is a purple State.I understand the choice. Gillum ,by picking King young entrepreneur,is trying to deflect a barrage of incoming Attacks from Rs who will try to portray as a tax and spend Socialist.Data analytics show that the race will be won in the middle “ independents.I think picking Graham will have definitely sway the pendulum of this part of the electorate to him. We will see.

      • Nordonia Nate

        September 7, 2018 at 11:30 am

        OK. Please explain where the money will come from to pay for all that was promised. IF you believe taxes are not going up, please show why? These “..Young entrepreneurs..” that you allude to… What part of the Gillum agenda was designed to attract them? Gillum wants to tax corporate profits. How does that encourage investment? With a strong economy and wages going up, why would independents want Gillum?

  • Leon

    September 6, 2018 at 1:03 pm

    Gillum is a socialist. Anyone who votes for him is certifying their own ignorance.

    • PaulHalpern

      September 6, 2018 at 3:09 pm

      Speaking of ignorance. Can you actually explain what a socialist is? I can and I embrace it.

      • Tom

        September 7, 2018 at 2:03 am

        Lol, thanks for proving his point. It takes a special kind of stupid to embrace Socialism.

      • Nordonia Nate

        September 7, 2018 at 11:35 am

        What aspect of socialism do you embrace? Political agenda where wealthy bureaucrats take advantage of system? The labor aspect where everyone is employed no matter how many hours you do not work.. Would it be the societal piece where you are provided with govt subsidized healthcare, food, housing, education…

        Your thoughts are greatly appreciated.

  • Austin Cassidy

    September 6, 2018 at 1:38 pm

    This is an insane pick. Did no one want to take on the job because of the FBI investigation hanging over Gillum’s head?

    The only candidate further to the left of Gillum during the primaries was Chris King. This ticket has ZERO experience in state government and King had unusually high unfavorable ratings among Democratic voters.

    Chris King blew through almost $6 million of his family’s money to win 2% of the vote in the Democratic primary. A whopping $160 per vote!

  • Frankie

    September 6, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    If paying teachers more money is socialism then sign me up.

    We’ve been told by the Trump administration & it surrogates that the FBI has zero credibility. Why should we all of a sudden believe them now?

  • Dimitri Oriol

    September 6, 2018 at 6:05 pm

    Compassionate capitalism is what Gillum is offering. He is not a socialist. Shift benefits to working families is the way to Go not big corporations. Education, Environment are national Security issues not tax breaks to the wealthty. i can go on and on. What type of legacy we will leave to our kids . Common sense Leadership for all or Ethnic tribalism based on fear and dog whistle.

  • Josh

    September 6, 2018 at 8:12 pm

    The biggest difficulty for me during the primary was figuring out if I was going to vote for Gillum or King. I voted for Gillum, but now I’m excited to see I’ll be able to vote for both in November

Comments are closed.


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