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2020/2022

Chris King seeking to elevate Democrats in ‘Gillum-King’ districts

King is looking for another way to weigh in on Democratic politics.

Former Lieutenant Governor candidate Chris King is pursuing a new effort in Florida Democratic Party politics by hosting online forums with legislative candidates in districts held by Republicans, but in which the Andrew Gillum-King ticket did well in 2018.

King has launched a series of social media forums he calls “Let’s Talk.” He’s seeking to lend his support by providing opportunities for Democratic candidates to introduce themselves to his followers.

To date, a half dozen such forums carried on Facebook and Twitter platforms have averaged more than 12,500 views each. His staff said there were 20,000 for an Aug. 23 forum that featured Julie Jenkins running in House District 60 and Jessica Harrington running in House District 64.

King’s effort is focused in seven districts that Gillum and he carried at the top of the ticket, but which Republicans won in district elections in 2018, plus a handful more Republican-held districts where the Gillum-King ticket came close.

A news release from the political office of King’s privately held company said he is endorsing the Democratic candidates in those districts.

King has never won an elected office. In his first run, he lost to Gillum in the Democrats’ gubernatorial primary in 2018. Then he lost as Gillum’s running mate in the 2018 General Election, a razor-close defeat to now-Gov. Ron DeSantis. However, King has striven to pile up party favor and build political alliances before, during, and since the 2018 elections, and has been frequently cited as one of the leaders of the party’s progressive wing.

“What Andrew and I started in 2018, these transformational candidates are prepared to finish,” King stated in the news release. “Our goal is to see a Democratic legislator in every one of these districts, and I’m committed to seeing that happen this November.”

Now King is partnering with Ruth’s List, the organization backing select women Democratic candidates, to cosponsor, promote and brand  many of the future events, seeking a larger audience.

Next up is at 7 p.m. Thursday on King’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

King will be chatting with Pasha Baker, a Democrat running in House District 28 against Republican Rep. David Smith, and Tracey Kagan, a Democrat running in House District 29 against Republican Rep. Scott Plakon. The Gillum-King ticket barely lost both of those districts, drawing more than 49% of the votes in each.

“Flipping these districts is a team effort, and we’re thrilled to partner with a leader like Chris King to lift up the fantastic slate of Democratic women running for office throughout our state,” Ruth’s List Florida Interim CEO Barbara Zdravecky stated in the news release.

Previous “Let’s Talk” forums have featured Franccesca Cesti-Browne of House District 115; Ricky Junquera, House District 118; Shevrin Jones, Senate District 35; Michele Rayner, House District 70; Angie Nixon, House District 14; and Omari Hardy, House District 88.

The press release said the forums thus far have averaged more than 12,500 views.

Future forums are planned to feature Maureen Porras of House District 105 and Clint Barras of House District 120 on Sept. 10; Kayser Enneking of House District 21 and Andrew Learned of House District 59 on Sept. 13;  and Patrick Henry of House District 26 and Jim Bonfiglio of House District 89 on Sept. 20.

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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