Democrat running for Florida governor brings up rival’s father

Democratic governor candidate Chris King at Thursday night’s Palm Beach County Democratic Executive Committee meeting.

Winter Park businessman and Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Chris King introduced himself to Palm Beach County Democratic activists on Thursday night, calling himself a “progressive entrepreneur” who can end decades of futility for Democrats in Florida governor races.

First-time candidate King, 38, told attendees at the monthly county Democratic Party meeting outside West Palm Beach that he was a freshman in high school the last time a Democrat won a governor’s race. That was 1994, when incumbent Gov. Lawton Chiles narrowly won re-election over Republican challenger Jeb Bush. Bush got elected in 1998 and Republicans have won every governor’s race since.

Gwen Graham with her father, former Gov. and Sen. Bob Graham, at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

King mentioned past Democratic governors Chiles, LeRoy Collins, Reubin Askew and “the great Bob Graham” as successful Democrats he has studied.

Bob Graham’s daughter, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, is one of King’s rivals for the Democratic nomination.

“I’ve looked at these statesmen, these people who rose above partisan politics and got stuff done,” King said of Bob Graham and the other Democratic governors. “And what I saw with those four people was I saw character, I saw leadership and I saw a vision of where they wanted  to take the state.”

King heads Elevation Financial Group, which develops and revitalizes affordable housing projects.

“We built a company around the concept – and this is really the frame that we’re going to be running in this election – that you can do well by doing good,” King said.

“You can build a company that pays a living wage and up, where everyone makes bonuses,  everyone has access to health care paid for by the employer, where you have a huge philanthropic footprint. You can do well by doing good. You don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. I call it the progressive entrepreneur,” King said.

King making a point on Thursday.

A progressive, King said, is “somebody who believes in equality and justice and fairness and opportunity and care for the neediest among us. But when you marry that, I say, to entrepreneurship, to hard work and integrity and stewardship and financial discipline, I think magic happens. And that’s the case we want to make to the Republicans in 2018.”

King, Graham and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum are seeking the Democratic nomination to replace term-limited Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine — who has also been flirting with an independent bid — could join them in the Democratic race and trial lawyer John Morgan has considered a Democratic candidacy as well.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is the best-known Republican candidate for governor. House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land-O’Lakes, state Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Ponte Vedra Beach, are other potential GOP candidates.

 

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