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Personnel note: Top Florida GOP staffer Andrew Wiggins accepts new role at Florida Chamber

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Andrew Wiggins has taken a new role as senior director of campaigns and elections for the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Wiggins, previously deputy director of Senate campaigns for the Republican Party of Florida, is one of four new team members to the Chamber – joined by Andy GonzalezCarolyn Gosselin, and Drew Preston.

They are part of a renewed effort by the Chamber to boost voter education and employer mobilization efforts.

As the most economically and politically significant state in America, Florida has become more competitive, Chamber officials said in an announcement Friday. Nonetheless, special interest groups are also ramping up efforts to disrupt the future of the Sunshine State.

The Chamber is responding by bolstering its veteran political team with solid political operatives like Wiggins.

However, Wiggins’ departure as No. 2 at the RPOF is more than a high-profile staff change, as Marc Caputo reported in POLITICO last month. His exit followed that of Ashley Ross, the committee’s former finance director.

“After the (Senate’s campaign arm’s) controversial decision to leave the RPOF building in a huff earlier this year, things are getting pretty lonely at GOP Senate campaigns (don’t be surprised if Senate leaders successfully beg Wiggins to stay),” Caputo wrote at the time.

Nevertheless, the Chamber appeared to have successfully wooed Wiggins, a 15-year veteran of political campaigns, whose arrival also comes at a key time for the both pro-business organization and the RPOF.

Shuffling seats at the GOP comes at a pivotal moment for Florida Senate Republicans, as they face an election cycle that might be confounded by court-ordered redistricting, with much of the state’s 40-district map redrawn.

As for the rest of the Chamber’s new hires, Gonzalez was formerly political affairs manager for the League of Southeastern Credit Unions and served in both political and legislative fields for seven years.

Wiggins and Gonzalez will join Marian Johnson, senior vice president of political strategy, to guide the Chamber’s efforts to elect pro-jobs, pro-business candidates.

Management and communications expert Gosselin will become chief marketing and strategy officer. She formerly held senior positions with the Petrizzo Strategic Group, Inc., in Washington, D.C., and Orlando, CNL Financial Group, Inc. in Orlando, SunTrust Banks, Inc., in Atlanta and Orlando, and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

Preston, previously with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as director of congressional and public affairs, will play a role in strategic employer engagement and mobilization. He is returning to Tallahassee after a decade with the U.S. Chamber in Washington, D.C.

“When it comes to securing Florida’s future, the stakes couldn’t be higher,” said CEO Mark Wilson. “Winning the war for free enterprise means growing the private sector and creating jobs that will help make Florida a global leader and provide greater prosperity for Florida families.

“Adding the expertise of these four professionals to the Florida Chamber team will further strengthen our focus on making Florida more competitive,” Wilson added.

“As Governor Jeb Bush’s former political director, I learned that success is never final,” said Chamber Executive Vice President David Hart. “The significant growth of our team is a strategic move to recruit, support and elect candidates who believe in private sector job creation and who will defend attacks on free enterprise.”

The Chamber is the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations, which represent every industry and every region.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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