Tampa Republican Business Owners (TRBO) spar with Chamber of Commerce over endorsements

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The Tampa Republican Business Owners (TRBO), a political action committee dedicated to electing pro-business Republicans and supporting conservative fiscal policies, has bristling analysis of the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s recent Tampa Bay legislative seat endorsements.

“With record high unemployment and an environment that is forcing many of its own constituents to close their doors, one would have thought that the Chamber might utilize this moment to put forward a clear agenda for turning the economy around,” said TRBO Chair Mike Keller, “But, instead it’s decided to stand behind a list of candidates whose only common attribute is that they are the current office holder, even going so far as endorsing those who openly support policies detrimental to the businesses that the Chamber of Commerce claims to represent.”

Through their endorsements, the Florida Chamber of Commerce is displaying resounding support for the status quo by recommending every Tampa Bay incumbent for reelection regardless of their policy positions. In one closely contested state house race, the Chamber has endorsed Rep. Janet Long, a Democrat who has never held a private sector job and advocates the creation of a massive new tax on internet transactions, over her challenger, Larry Ahern, a fiscally responsible Republican who has spent more than two decades building small businesses in St. Petersburg.

Earlier this year, the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce endorsed a 14% sales tax increase, which if enacted, would give Hillsborough County the highest sales tax in the Florida and cost the private sector more than three billion dollars.

“We aren’t going to grow the economy by confiscating billions of additional dollars from already cash strapped businesses.” Keller concludes, “Serious business leaders understand that it will take principled leadership to get us moving forward again, which is why alternative business advocacy associations like the TRBO have seen increased activity with each election cycle.”

No matter who wins the elections, the controversy over these endorsements demonstrate that the Chamber of Commerce can no longer, with any credibility, pretend to speak for the overall business community of the region.

For more information on the Tampa Republican Business Owners visit www.TampaBusinessGOP.com

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.