Florida Chamber backs Siplin, Brooks, Pena in Central Florida legislative races

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Chamber of Commerce, the most well-heeled business lobby in the Capitol, has issued its legislative endorsements, and the roster includes a few head-turners in Central Florida.

The Chamber is endorsing Victoria Siplin, the Democratic wife of termed-out Sen. Gary Siplin of Orlando, in her SD 12 primary contest against Rep. Geraldine Thompson. Thompson was in Tallahassee interviewing with the Chamber a couple weeks back, but the business lobby obviously didn’t look past the Siplin familiy’s assistance in fighting the Fair Districts amendments in 2010 — or Thompson’s heavy union backing.

The Chamber also backed former Rep. Bob  Brooks, a staunchly conservative Winter Park doctor, in the House District 47 race against Democratic former Orange County Commissioner Linda Stewart.

It endorsed Rep. Dorothy Hukill, R-DeLand, in her SD 8 match-up with Volusia County Chairman Frank Bruno, a Democrat who is expected to draw strong trial lawyer support.

And it sided with Marco Pena, a Republican running for House District 49 who faces strong primary and general election opposition.

“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, in a statement. “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.”

Also from the press release:

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)
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
Carlos Trujillo, R                     HD 105
Kathleen Passidomo, R          HD 106
John Patrick Julien, D            HD 107
Jose Oliva, R                          HD 110

Jeanette Nunez, R                  HD 119


 © The Orlando Sentinel 2012

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