The Florida Retail Federation released its legislative endorsements yesterday. While the Federation claims to be concerned about taxation of internet commerce and saving jobs in Florida, based on their endorsement list they are more concerned about keeping Republicans in power. Like other Tallahassee based lobbying groups, the Florida Retail Federation has been squeezed and cajoled by the GOP to back their candidates. It is very telling that in the State House the FRF has backed only one Democrat in a potentially competitive race (Michelle Rehwinkel-Vasilinda) and have skipped countless races. The organization in fact failed to endorse a single Democrat running for the House in between Jacksonville and West Palm Beach on either coast.
On the Senate side, where the threat of the Democrats ever controlling the chamber is nill (unlike the House which conceivably could flip to the Democrats by 2018 under the current apportionment plan), the organization has picked some races with token Republican opposition to endorse Democrats.
Not surprisingly, despite the qualms the Florida Retail Federation had about many House Democrats, they did endorse House Democratic Leader Ron Saunders in Senate District 39. Saunders after all has been invaluable to Governor Scott and his allies in promoting the right wing agenda through the state legislature. Saunders has not necessarily backed all parts of the Scott agenda but by not leading House Democrats in a unified and tactical manner, the minority has played dead on any number of critical issues.
This is another clear example how Tallahassee based special interest groups have become extensions of the Republican Party of Florida. Last week, the Florida Chamber made similar endorsements almost universally backing Republicans in most races. Associated of Industries of Florida, long run by conservative Democrats has thrown in entirely with the GOP and become more and more radicalized as time has gone on.
These interest groups who tout strong economic growth and job creation are universally supporting a party who have mismanaged Florida’s economy, education, state budget, insurance crisis and housing problems over the past decade. For these groups, partisanship and access trumps any real commitment to the issues they claim to advocate for their members.
It is about time Florida’s Democrats stand up to these types interest groups and end their dependence on them for fundraising purposes. These groups are protecting their own self interest and legislative influence and that means backing Republicans. House and Senate Victory rely on the organizations based in Tallahassee who have a major legislative presence for funding. It is time to look more closely at the extensive DNC donor list and that of the DCCC and DSCC in Florida and begin aggressively hitting those people for fundraising purposes.