Associated Industries endorses Fred Costello, Mike Miller in open-seat congressional races - Florida Politics

Associated Industries endorses Fred Costello, Mike Miller in open-seat congressional races

The Associated Industries of Florida has thrown its backing behind Republican state Rep. Mike Miller‘s bid for Congress in Florida’s 7th Congressional District and former state Rep. Fred Costello‘s bid in Florida’s 6th Congressional District.

Miller’s endorsement may come as a bit of a sting to his Aug. 28 Republican primary opponent Scott Sturgill, who is himself professionally in the manufacturing sector represented by AIF.

Miller is aiming to oust Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy in CD 7, which covers Seminole County and much of north and central Orange County. He first must get past Sturgill in what has been a bruising primary battle. Also in the primaries are Republican Vennia Francois and Democrat Chardo Richardson.

Costello is in a battle with Republicans John Ward and Michael Waltz for the Aug. 28 Republican primary, with another three Democrats vying, and the prospect that the November election could be competitive in a seat Republicans have long held. Incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis is running for governor.

The group also endorsed the re-election bids of Republican U.S. Reps. Matt Gaetz in CD 1; Neal Dunn in CD 2; Ted Yoho in CD 3; John Rutherford in CD 4; Al Lawson in CD 5; Bill Posey in District 8; Dan Webster in CD 11; Gus Bilirakis in CD 12; Vern Buchanan in CD 16; Brian Mast in CD 18; Francis Rooney in CD 19; Maria Diaz-Balart in CD 25; and Carlos Curbelo in CD 26.

And the AIF endorsed two Democrat congressmen seeking re-election: Al Lawson in CD 5, and Darren Soto in CD 9.

“Today, the AIF Board of Directors is proud to release our endorsements for those candidates here in Florida that we believe will best serve Florida businesses and families in the U.S. House of Representatives,” AIF President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Feeney, a former congressman himself. “We believe these individuals are the most qualified candidates in their respective races to take our pro-growth, pro-job and free-enterprise message to Washington to continue to make Florida a top state in the nation to live, work and raise a family.”

The group skipped endorsements in several districts with highly-competitive Republican primaries, and in most districts where incumbent Democratic incumbents are likely to be re-elected. That made the endorsements of Miller, Costello, Soto and Lawson stand out.

Soto’s may in part reflect the strength of AIF’s preference of him over his Aug. 28 Democratic rival, the much more liberal former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, with the recognition that the Republican in the district, Wayne Liebnitzky, would be a long shot against either of them come November. Lawson also has a tough primary battle with former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, which likely will decide this year’s ultimate winner in that north Florida district.

“We strongly encourage our fellow Floridians to vote to send these candidates to Washington to fight for Florida,” Feeney stated. “Our businesses and families can count on these individuals to foster a business-friendly environment our future generations can rely on.”

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.
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