Confederate statues must go, Florida Dems for governor say at Forum Club lunch

Three Democratic candidates for governor, from left: Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham and Winter Park businessman Chris King at a Forum Club of the Palm Beaches lunch in West Palm Beach. (Meghan McCarthy/ The Palm Beach Post)

WEST PALM BEACH  — The three leading Democratic candidates for Florida governor called for the removal of Confederate statues and monuments from public places during a Forum Club of the Palm Beaches lunch today at the Kravis Center.

In only their second joint appearance, Democratic candidates Andrew Gillum, Gwen Graham and Chris King steered clear of major policy conflicts but highlighted biographical differences that each said would make him or her the most electable candidate in a state where Democrats haven’t won a governor’s race since 1994.

The three fielded questions from Michael Williams of WPTV Channel 5, then from members of the audience of more than 600.

A student from the Benjamin School asked about Confederate monuments, which have drawn renewed attention since a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. this month and President Donald Trump‘s response that “many sides” were to blame for the violence.

“It’s time and it’s right to take down our Confederate monuments across the state of Florida. All of them,” said King, a Winter Park businessman who said his private sector experience and outsider status are what Democrats need to end their gubernatorial losing streak.

Tallahassee Mayor Gillum, trying to become the first black governor in Florida history, joked that “you can probably guess” his position on Confederate monuments.

“I’m totally interested in the retaining of history because it’s important that we not repeat it. But can we put these monuments in places where you can actually put them in context and not in celebrated, exalted parts of our society?” Gillum said.

Former U.S. Rep. Graham agreed that “we need to move the Confederate monuments to places that reflect history or in our textbooks.”

She added: “Shame on Donald Trump from fueling hatred, for placing KKK, Naziism and white supremacy on an even plane with those that were protecting and talking about their value systems, which are the right value systems for this country.”

After the forum, all three candidates were asked what they’d do as governor if a local community insisted on keeping a Confederate statue or monument in a public place. Check out their responses later today at


Author: George Bennett

George Bennett has been a Palm Beach Post reporter since 1992. He grew up in Bethesda, Md. and is a graduate of The George Washington University. Follow him on Twitter @gbennettpost

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