The Florida Chamber of Commerce stepped up its political hiring ahead of the 2020 elections. The business organization also announced a nonpartisan candidate school aimed at recruiting “better candidates” at all levels.
Most notable in the hires, Nick Catroppo was named Vice President of Political Operations, a new position.
“Over the years, the Chamber has proven to be the unifying force in Florida politics, and I’m honored to return to my home state and join this incredible, growing program,” he said. “From the start, my focus will be on uniting our business community and leading the Chamber’s political victories into the 2020 Election cycle, especially during such challenging and unprecedented times.”
Catroppo boasts campaign experience on a number of statewide and local contests, working in the past for Attorney General Ashley Moody, state Rep. James Buchanan and former U.S. Reps. David Jolly and Richard Nugent — notably all Republicans (though Jolly has become an independent since leaving office).
David Hart, Florida Chamber executive vice president, saw the hiring of Catroppo as one that will pay dividends.
“I’m excited to welcome the extraordinary talents of Nick Catroppo to our Political Operations team,” Hart said. “His experience at running and winning campaigns in Florida for candidates who believe in free enterprise makes him the perfect choice to build upon our past successes and lead to future success and victories over the next several election cycles.”
He also came on with vocal support from U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, Moody and Senate President-Designate Wilton Simpson.
“The Florida Chamber unifies Florida’s business community behind the right candidates and the right issues and Nick Catroppo has the experience and pro-business focus to make sure the right things happen in Florida,” said Buchanan, himself a former Florida Chamber chair.
Moody agreed. “Nick has a wealth of experience in politics earning the trust and respect of his colleagues in state and federal government,” she said. “He will be a great asset to the Florida Chamber and its members.”
And Simpson, he will become Senate President should Republicans hold the chamber this year, praised the hire.
“Nick is a great choice to lead the political operations at the Florida Chamber going into the 2020 election cycle and beyond. He has an impressive resume of accomplishments in the political arena that will only continue to grow in this new capacity. Nick and his wife, Amanda, have deep roots in Florida, which I know will help him better serve the Florida Chamber and its members,” Simpson said. “I look forward to working with Nick, and the entire team at the Florida Chamber, to support our business community, create jobs, grow our economy and Relaunch Florida.”
Besides Catroppo, the Chamber also promoted Andrew Wiggins to senior director for Political Affairs and Coalitions Advocacy.
Marion Johnson will continue to serve as executive director of the Florida Chamber Political Institute, and Alex Coelho will remain the Florida Chamber data director.
The Political Institute has kicked active recruitment of candidates up significantly, and will interview more than 50 candidates prior to announcing endorsements.
Meanwhile, the new Florida Institute for Political Leadership will begin to recruit, train and guide prospective candidates. Chamber leaders note some 4,500 offices are up for election some time between now and the 2025 election cycle.