10 picks that stand out among the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s 2016 legislative endorsements

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

The Florida Chamber of Commerce last week rolled out a second round of endorsements in legislative races across the state.

There are more than 400 candidates who have qualified to run for the 160 seats in the Florida House of Representatives and Florida Senate. With this latest round of endorsements, the Chamber is now backing 110 candidates this election cycle.

According to a release from the organization, each candidate was evaluated through a rigorous candidate interview questionnaire and interview process.

“The Florida Chamber believes the only way to secure Florida’s future is by electing those candidates who put the long-term needs of our state ahead of short-term interests,” reads a release.

Here are some of the Chamber’s endorsements which stand out.

— In the ultra-competitive race for Senate District 1, the Chamber is backing Doug Broxson over Mike Hill, both currently serving in the Florida House. Broxson recently won the support of Florida Realtors, but polling indicates the race remains too close to call.

— It’s no surprise the Chamber is backing Republican Keith Perry over Democrat Rod Smith in SD 8. Perry’s been a reliable vote for the Chamber, whereas Smith’s election to the Senate would represent a major victory for the Chamber’s arch-enemies, the trial lawyers.

— There are a slew of open seats up for grabs in northeast Florida. In HDs 11-14, there is an abundance of candidates running. Some organizations are taking a wait-and-see approach before endorsing in these races. The Chamber is backing Sheri Treadwell in HD 11 and Clay Yarborough in HD 12. The Treadwell pick, which her campaign has been eager to tout, is contra to what the Realtors just did, as they are backing Cord Byrd.

— In HD 21, the Chamber is endorsing Chuck Clemons. The Realtors endorsed his opponent Wenda Lewis, while Associated Industries is remaining neutral. In other words, it’s not really clear where the business community is coming down in this race.

— In Tampa Bay, the Chamber made some interesting picks. It’s backing Republican Rebecca Smith over Jackie Toledo in the GOP primary, giving Smith additional establishment support. It’s getting behind Dianne Hart in HD 61 Democratic primary, presumably as a block versus Sean Shaw, who would be a thorn in the Chamber’s side. In the battleground HD 68 race, Ben Diamond wins the Chamber’s nod, giving him another concept for a direct mailer. Most surprising is the Chamber’s support of Wengay Newton in HD 70, further signaling the former St. Petersburg City Councilman’s political evolution.

— Really, Florida Chamber, you endorsed David Rivera? Yes, he’s a Republican, but, jeez, aren’t all of his recent shenanigans too much to accept?

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.