The Florida Chamber makes an interesting bet; NRA not backing HD 60 candidate Rebecca Smith

in Peter/Top Headlines by

The Florida Chamber of Commerce is making a high-risk, high-reward investmens in a Florida legislative race where the choice of which candidates it is supporting does not, at first glance, appear to be a black-and-white decision.

In Florida Senate District 1, the Chamber is backing Republican state Representative Doug Broxson over his House colleague Mike Hill, despite the former’s A rating with the organization’s most recent legislative scorecard.

As first reported by Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida, the Florida Chamber released an ad Thursday “blistering … Hill over his vote against legislation seen as an important step to passing $250 million in economic incentives, the top priority for Gov. Rick Scott during the 2016 legislative session.”

The ad labels Hill a “typical politician” and says that “the Florida Chamber and our small businesses can’t trust Mike Hill.”

The irony of the Chamber saying that it cannot trust Hill is that the Panhandle Republican scored a 97 percent ranking on the Chamber’s most recent legislative report card, earning the first-term lawmaker an ‘A’ grade with the organization.

Explaining why the Chamber is forcefully attacking a member who has sided with it 97 percent of the time, Marion Johnson, the inimitable Senior Vice President of Political Operations for the Chamber said, “Voters deserve a leader they can trust in, not one who says one thing and does another.”

As Dixon explained in his report, “Hill originally supported Scott’s economic incentive plan, but withdrew his support as changes were made during the legislative session. The bill that Hill voted against included no incentive money, but would have reformed the state’s economic development system.”

For the Chamber, supporting Broxson is about “trust, leadership and job growth,” said Johnson.

The Chamber has a history of playing in competitive GOP primaries. Currently, it’s backing to the hilt Ritch Workman‘s campaign against Debbie Mayfield in Senate District 17. In 2014, the Chamber was visibly involved in several primary races, including two high-profile House races — HDs 40 and 71 — where the Chamber’s preferred candidate came away victorious.

For his part, Hill expressed disappointment with the Chamber’s characterization of his record.

“I have owned a State Farm agency for 21 years,” Hill wrote on Twitter. “I know what small business is.”

Across the state, two accomplished women — Rebecca Smith and Jackie Toledo — are squaring off in the House District 60 GOP primary. The winner faces Democrat David Singer in the General Election.

Smith and Toledo have swapped press releases with each other touting their latest endorsements. Smith probably has the upper hand in that department, but Toledo has higher name recognition, making the race at this point too close to call.

One might think the NRA is hoping Smith wins. A handout from Smith (see below) says she is “an unwavering 2nd Amendment Supporter.”

Unfortunately for Smith, she scored a ‘B-‘ grade on the NRA’s report card, while Toledo earned an ‘A’ grade and the gun owners’ rights organization’s endorsement.

rebecca smith

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.