On Thursday, the Florida Chamber of Commerce officially endorsed Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis, saying he would continue the success that the Sunshine State has undergone under exiting Gov. Rick Scott.
“As president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, my top job is to secure the future of this state,” said Chamber head Mark Wilson. “ … Other states want to be like Florida. We have a big choice in the fall.”
Also on-hand for the Orlando news conference was past Florida Chamber chairwoman Glenda Hood and former House Speaker Will Weatherford. Both emphasized that they and the Chamber were “firmly” behind DeSantis’ bid for the Governor’s Mansion.
“I’ve seen what it’s like when this state has good leadership. Florida has had eight years of good leadership under Rick Scott,” Weatherford said. “The Florida Chamber stands firmly behind Ron DeSantis.”
In accepting the endorsement, DeSantis made the case that he’ll continue the tax cuts and job growth that Florida experienced under Scott. He also threw plenty of jabs at his Democratic opponent, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.
“I’m the only veteran running for Governor, and apparently I may be the only capitalist running,” the former Congressman said.
DeSantis hit Gillum on his proposed corporate tax hike from 5.5 percent to 7.75 percent to generate $1 billion for the state’s education budget. The Ponte Vedra Republican then touted the tax reform bill passed by Congress and his policy proposals if elected to lead the Sunshine State — from boosting vocational education to improving water quality.
“Our environment is really the foundation of Florida’s economic engine,” he said.
State Rep. Jeanette Nuñez, DeSantis’ pick for Lieutenant Governor, also gave her stump speech for the Republican ticket, saying she and DeSantis were the best option in every metric.
“We firmly believe we’re the ticket that’s going to continue to push Florida forward,” she said. “ … We’re not just the best choice for Florida, we’re the only choice.”
The Chamber’s endorsement comes after their unwavering support for Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in the Republican primary. DeSantis defeated Putnam by 20 points last month.
As DeSantis was accepting the Chamber nod, Orlando Democratic Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith was nearby to protest against DeSantis’ “dangerous record of voting to rip away health care from millions of Floridians in order to give massive tax cuts to corporate special interests.”
Smith was an early backer of Gillum, endorsing him during the early phase of the Democratic primary.