The Florida Chamber of Commerce announced Monday it is endorsing 10 state representatives and three state senators from Central Florida and the Space Coast – all Republicans – in their re-election bids for 2018.
The local endorsements, among 60 announced statewide Monday, include Republican state Reps. Paul Renner in House District 24, Tom Leek in House District 25, David Santiago in House District 27; Scott Plakon in state District 29, Bob Cortes in House District 30, Jennifer Sullivan in House District 31, Mike La Rosa in House District 42, Bobby Olszewski in House District 44, Rene Plasencia in House District 50, and Randy Fine in House District 53.
The local state senators endorsed were Republicans Dennis Baxley in state Senate District 12, Dorothy Hukill in Senate District 14, and Kelli Stargel in Senate District 22.
The chamber also gave the lawmakers numeric and letter grades indicating the percentage of time they voted with the chamber’s agenda, and most of those endorsed got an A. Plakon and Plasencia both received perfect 100 percent marks from the chamber.
The only Central Florida incumbent Republican lawmaker at least considering a re-election campaign who did not get the chamber’s backing in the region, stretching from Lake to Brevard counties and from Volusia to Osceola counties, was state Rep. Thad Altman in District 52. He posted an 89 percent voting record, and got a B.
Statewide, St. Petersburg Rep. Ben Diamond was the only Democrat included in the chamber’s list.
The chamber said the nods were part of its “a larger Florida Chamber effort to help elect pro-jobs, pro-business candidates that support private-sector job creation and economic growth.”
“Electing pro-jobs, free-enterprise focused candidates to office can and does make a difference for Florida’s families and businesses,” said Marian Johnson, Senior Vice President of Political Operations for the Florida Chamber of Commerce.
Chamber Governmental Affairs VP Frank Walker added: “To secure Florida’s future, we need a legislature that focuses on free enterprise principles and job creation. The Florida Chamber’s thorough endorsement process sends a strong signal that Florida families and small businesses can feel confident in supporting these candidates.”
Though the bulk endorsement covers more than half of the 105 incumbents running for re-election in 2018, and more than two fifths of legislative races overall, the Chamber said its endorsements were merely the “first round” and to expect more in the coming weeks.
Future rounds will focus on non-incumbents.
Drew Wilson of the Florida Politics staff contributed to this report.