We received news today that Senator Jim King has been moved to hospice. While I have no inside information about this development, usually a move to hospice is not a good thing.
I’ve thought a lot about Senator King in the last few months. He was among the first politicians I met when I came to Florida. I consider him to be one of the good guys.
My experiences interviewing Senator King have always been exceptional. The first time we sat down together, it quickly became obvious that he was a straight-ahead guy that would answer questions candidly and in depth. In every interview I conducted with Senator King, on issue after issue, he (almost) always took every question straight on, and gave a good answer. And it wasn’t always the answer you expected.
Senator King has been a stalwart champion of his district, and the entire region. He was instrumental in changing the school funding formula and increasing state spending on education in Northeast Florida. His accomplishments are many, and Northeast Florida is a better place for his leadership.
But as powerful as he became, Senator King has always been approachable. He has always made an effort to make time for the media, or at least for me. He has shown me respect when he didn’t have to, which begets respect in return. I always came away from any encounter with Senator King feeling like I knew more than I did when we started, and not just formal interviews.
King has been parodied by Carl Hiaasson, who doesn’t seem to care much for Republicans. He was never called out by name, but from the description, anyone who knows anything about Florida politics knows who Hiaasson meant. Not very complimentary, to be sure, and I never asked King about it, but I’m sure he took it with his usual good humor.
Senator King was nearing the end of his political career. His presence was going to be missed regardless. The news today was not entirely unexpected, and yet it came faster than at least I thoughts it would. Of course, our thoughts are with Senator King and his family.