By Jim DeFede

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Admitting that his campaign for governor faces “an uphill battle,” Democrat Chris King launched a twelve day bus tour across the state he’s calling: “Fearless For Florida.”

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King, an Orlando developer who has made affordable housing and criminal justice reform the keystones of his campaign, has lagged in the polls, consistently finishing fifth in the five-person Democratic primary.

Nevertheless, he continues to press his message with an evangelical passion.

“This is an uphill battle,” he said of the campaign. “It’s been an uphill battle the entire election. It has not been easy to take on a powerful interest like sugar, which was something I did from my very first speech. It’s not been easy being the outsider taking on a political establishment in the Democratic party that I just don’t think has been very helpful at winning elections or adding much to Florida politics.

“I think a vote for Chris King is a vote for a new kind of politics in Florida.”

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King has called for making community colleges and trade schools free to attend in Florida, but it has been his condemnation of the state’s Stand Your Ground law that gained notice, especially following the shooting death in Clearwater of Markeis McGlockton, an unarmed black man who was shot and killed after an altercation in a convenience store parking lot.

 

“Institutional racism and racial justice have always been a passion of my life,” he said. “And I think Stand Your Ground is another one of those laws in Florida that is unfairly litigated.”

King has also vowed to end the use of the death penalty in the state, arguing it unfairly discriminates against minorities.

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“On this tour I’m talking about institutional racism,” King said. “Since when have you heard a candidate, in the final weeks of a primary, when everybody is paying attention, talk about racism, and go and talk about confederate monuments and Stand Your Ground, mass incarceration. These aren’t the issues at the end of a race a lot of candidates want to talk about, but to me they are incredibly important.”

Jim DeFede