Orlando small businessman Chris King officially announced on Tuesday that he would seek the Democratic nomination to be Florida’s next governor.
King joins Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum, who announced his campaign last month. Former Tallahassee-area congresswoman Gwen Graham has also strongly signaled her interest in running, saying last week that she plans to make an announcement “very soon.”
Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam is likely to be the Republican nominee to succeed Gov. Rick Scott, who is currently serving his second and final term.
Speaking before around 500 supporters at a senior affordable housing complex, King laid out his plans for “a new kind of leadership” in the state.
“Friends, my mission is clear: to change our one-party state government and help Florida take the lead again,” King said. “My call to public service has also been clear. I am stepping forward now because our time cries out for new leadership with fresh ideas. I am running for this job because I believe too many Floridians have been left out and left behind. This is the job that can actually do something about it.”
A political newcomer, King is a Harvard graduate with a law degree from the University of Florida. In 2006, King and his brother founded Elevation Financial Group, a private equity real estate investment company which specializes in senior independent living developments. With his family, King has also formed several charitable efforts, including the Elevation Scholars program, which provides college scholarship opportunities to low-income students in Orange County; the Elevation Global Initiative, which funds family farming and environmental efforts in Haiti, entrepreneurship training in East Africa, and prisoner rehabilitation in US prisons; and the Elevation Academy, a school in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo that serves 700 low-income students.
King and his wife Kristen, who were high school sweethearts, have three children.
“There will be those that argue that a lifetime in political office prepares them for this job; I believe that it was traditional political experience that got us into this mess and it will be fresh ideas and new leadership that will get us out of it,” King said. “The true challenge for Democrats is to offer something different, not a little different, but way different.”
Identifying economic stagnation as the biggest challenge facing Floridians today, King announced “Homegrown Florida,” an economic plan that he says will focus on elevating Florida’s middle class.
“As your next governor, I’ll launch an economic plan that will rely less on the artificial sweeteners to buy an economy and more on the real protein to grow an economy,” King said. “A plan that will focus less on showering love, attention and cash incentives on giant out-of-state corporations, and more on elevating Florida’s working families.”
The “Homegrown Florida” plan calls for raising the state’s minimum wage, introducing workforce training initiatives, and investing in Florida’s roads, bridges, and other infrastructure. The plan also includes the creation of a “business jumpstart fund” to provide seed capital and growth capital to small business entrepreneurs.
“I want this campaign to elevate the way our leaders serve you, and in so doing, to energize millions of Floridians to rise up and help Florida lead again,” King said.