The 2014 race for Florida’s governorship was already predicted by political analysts to be one of the closest and most exciting of this year’s midterms. Incumbent Republican Rick Scott is one of the least popular governors in the country, and his challenger, former Republican governor turned Democrat Charlie Crist, will have to fight his image as a “flip-flopper” to win the race.
An unlikely candidate has now entered the fray: in a Monday, July 7th press conference in Orlando, Florida, George Zimmerman announced he will be running for governor of the Sunshine State.
Zimmerman gained national attention 2 years ago for his fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin. Following the shooting, he was detained and questioned for 5 hours and then released uncharged. News of the incident spread and after 6 weeks of protest, Zimmerman was finally charged with manslaughter and second-degree murder by special prosecutor Angela Corey, who was appointed by Rick Scott to the case. On July 13, 2013, Zimmerman was acquitted on grounds of self-defense.
In his press conference, Zimmerman teased his opponent Rick Scott about their shared history:
“I bet [Governor Scott] is wishing Corey had got that conviction, because now I’m coming for his job. People are tired of the business interests that Scott represents, and they’re tired of the politics-as-usual that Crist represents. The great people of Florida want, and they deserve, refreshing new leadership. That’s what I bring to the table.”
Zimmerman will run as an Independent. He didn’t reveal much of his policy platform at Monday’s press conference, but he did assure voters that, if elected, he would do all he could to protect their 2nd amendment rights.
“Nothing is more important to me than the people of Florida being able to carry guns, shoot guns, and protect themselves in case of serious possibly harm.” Said Zimmerman in the press conference.
The effect of Zimmerman’s political ambition has been much like the fallout from the Treyvon Martin case, igniting racial and ideological tensions. Reactions in social media have been volatile to say the least.
In November, voters will decide if Zimmerman is the man they want for governor. For now, Zimmerman will make his case at a series of scheduled rallies being held in Orlando, Jacksonville, and Pensacola.