Democrat Chris King jumped on Scott Maxwell's column noting that he is the only candidate for governor from either party who flatly opposes the death penalty. The Winter Park businessman would not sign death warrants and would use his line item veto to block appropriations for executions in Florida.
For at least half a century, major statewide candidates in Florida have viewed opposition to capital punishment as political poison. Gwen Graham's father, Gov. Bob Graham, in 1979 signed off on America's first non-voluntary execution, of John Spenkelink, since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976. Critics said it was no accident Graham signed more death warrants in election years.
"The next governor of Florida needs to have the courage to enact bold, progressive reforms to our broken criminal justice system –– like ending the death penalty," King said. "It seems to me the other candidates aren't passing this crucial test of our values. New leadership means standing up to the political establishment and making public service about doing what's right –– not about doing what's possible according to the pundits and cynics."