FLORIDA CHAMBER WITHDRAWS SUPPORT FOR FIRST TIME
The Orlando Sentinel political blog Central Florida Political Pulse made note Tuesday that the Florida Chamber of Commerce has, for the first time in it's history, withdrawn it's endorsement of a sitting state senator and given it's blessing to a challenger.
The business organization announced that while it appreciates the past support from State Senator Alex Villalobos (R - Miami), chamber executive vice president Mark Wilson said "...we were truly saddened by his new allegiance to labor unions, plaintiff lawyers and other out-of-state special interest groups...". The group's endorsement went to Republican primary challenger Frank J. Bolanos, a member of the Miami-Dade County school board. It is the first time in his 14 years in the Legislature that Villalobos has had to face opposition.
As has been previously noted here, Villalobos is the middle of what has become a very nasty campaign to become Senate President two years from now. Earlier this year, seven conservative GOP collegues who had previously supported Villalobos switched their support to State Senator Jeffery H. "Jeff" Atwater (R - North Palm Beach). Villalobos placed the blame on what he called a well-organized conspiracy led by fellow Miami Cuban-American Republican Alex Diaz de la Portilla.
On top of that, Villalobos was stripped of his majority leader post in the Senate by current President Tom Lee (R - Brandon) after he opposed two measures key to Governor Jeb Bush's legacy: Putting measures on the ballot to approve school vouchers and to repeal the class-size amendment which voters approved a couple of years ago. His bucking Bush on these two education-based issues is understandable: His wife works for the local school district.
One has to wonder if and how the various situations are tied together.