First in SP'blog: Here are the Florida Chamber's endorsements in 2012 legislative races

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Following a comprehensive and deliberative candidate selection process, the Florida Chamber of Commerce today announces candidate endorsements for the Florida House of Representatives and Florida Senate. The endorsements result from one of Florida’s most thorough and well-respected pro-business, pro-jobs candidate review processes.

“Good government can only be obtained by electing candidates who understand Florida’s future needs and who are not afraid to make bold decisions that will get us there,” said Marian Johnson, Senior Vice President of Political Operations for the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “Interviewing the candidates and finding where they stand on those issues is an absolute necessity before you can make an informed decision about whom to support. Our interview process is thorough and intense, and allows us to understand a candidate’s position before we make an endorsement.”

The Florida Chamber Political Institute (FCPI) held seven candidate interview sessions across the state and interviewed more than 130 non-incumbent candidates – in addition to reviewing each candidate’s completed questionnaire. For incumbent candidate’s, the Florida Chamber evaluated numerous factors including each legislator’s grade on the Florida Chamber’s Legislative Report Card.

“To create a stable and predictable business climate that helps to create private-sector jobs and grow our state’s economy, we need a legislature that focuses on free enterprise principles and solutions,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber. “We are pleased to support in these pro-jobs, pro-business candidates and look forward to mobilizing our employer members and local chamber of commerce partners as well as their more than three million employees with far-reaching grassroots advocacy efforts.”

Below is an initial listing of Florida Chamber candidate endorsements. Additional endorsements are expected in the future.

SENATE – New Candidates:

Aaron Bean, R                           SD 04

Rob Bradley, R                         SD 07

Dorothy Hukill, R                    SD 08

Victoria Siplin, D                     SD 12

Kelli Stargel, R                          SD 15

John Legg, R                              SD 17

Wilton Simpson, R                   SD 18

Denise Grimsley, R                  SD 21

Joe Abruzzo, D                          SD 25

Mack Bernard, D                       SD 27

Ron Saunders, D                       SD 39

HOUSE – New Candidates:

A.J. Smith, D                          HD 07 (Democratic Primary Only)

Janet Adkins                          HD 11

Clovis Watson, Jr., D          HD 20

Travis Hutson, R                  HD 24

David Hood, R                       HD 25

David Santiago, R                 HD 27

Neil Combee, R                      HD 39

Bob Brooks, R                        HD 47

Marco Pena, R                       HD 49

Cary Pigman, R                     HD 55

Jake Raburn, R                     HD 57

Dan Raulerson, R                 HD 58

Dane Eagle, R                         HD 77

Heather Fitzenhagen, R     HD 78

Kevin Rader, D                       HD 81

Larry Lee, D                           HD 84

Bobby Powell, D                   HD 88

Katie Edwards, D                  HD 98

Manny Diaz, Jr., R               HD 103

Holly Raschein, R                HD 120

SENATE – Incumbents:

Don Gaetz, R                          SD 01

Bill Montford, D                    SD 03

John Thrasher, R                 SD 06

David Simmons, R               SD 10

Alan Hays, R                          SD 11

Andy Gardiner, R                SD 13

Jack Latvala, R                     SD 20

Lizbeth Benaquisto, R       SD 30

Joe Negron, R                       SD 32

Ellyn Bogdanoff, R              SD 34

HOUSE – Incumbents:

Clay Ford, R                          HD 02

Doug Broxson, R                 HD 03

Marti Coley, R                      HD 05

Lake Ray, R                           HD12

Doc Renuart, R                    HD 17

Jason Brodeur, R                HD 28

Chris Dorworth, R              HD 29

Scott Plakon, R                    HD 30

Jimmie Smith, R                 HD 34

Robert Schenck, III, R     HD 35

Richard Corcoran, R         HD 37

Seth McKeel, R                    HD 40

John Wood, R                      HD 41

Mike Horner, R                   HD 42

Tom Goodson, R                HD 50

Steve Crisafulli, R              HD 51

John Tobia, R                      HD 53

Peter Nehr, R                       HD 65

Larry Ahern, R                    HD 66

Ed Hooper, R                        HD 67

Jim Boyd, R                           HD 71

Doug Holder, R                    HD 74

Matt Caldwell, R                  HD 79

Matt Hudson, R                    HD 80

Bill Hager, R                          HD 89

Carlos Trujillo, R                 HD 105

Kathleen Passidomo, R     HD 106

John Patrick Julien, D       HD 107

Jose Oliva, R                         HD 110

Eddy Gonzalez                      HD 111

Erik Fresen, R                       HD 114

Michael Bileca, R                HD 115

Jose Diaz, R                          HD 116

Jeanette Nunez, R              HD 119

Several Florida Chamber-endorsed candidates have been elected or re-elected without opposition. Those include:


Charlie Dean, R                      SD 05

Garrett Richter, R                 SD 23

Nancy Detert, R                     SD 28

Anitere Flores, R                   SD 37

Rene Garcia, R                       SD 38

Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R    SD 40


Clay Ingram, R                       HD 01

Jimmy Patronis, R                HD 06

Elizabeth Porter, R               HD 10

Daniel Davis, R                       HD 15

Charles Van Zant, R             HD 19

Dennis Baxley, R                   HD 23

Bryan Nelson, R                    HD 31

Larry Metz, R                         HD 32

Marlene O’Toole, R              HD 33

Will Weatherford, R             HD 38

Ritch Workman, R                HD 52

Debbie Mayfield, R               HD 54

Ben Albritton, R                    HD 56

Dana Young, R                       HD 60

James Grant, R                      HD 64

Ken Roberson, R                   HD 75

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, 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.