Chamber backs Bennett — Not hard to figure out why

Jeremy Wallace wrote that the Florida Chamber backs [Senator Mike] Bennett:

Of the nine state legislators who represent parts of Sarasota and Manatee counties, none had a worse voting record with the Florida Chamber of Commerce than state Sen. Mike Bennett.

But even though they gave him a “D” grade for his voting record, the chamber last week inexplicably named Bennett one of just six state senators they considered “Distinguished Advocates for 2008.”

But Bennett said it shouldn’t be such a surprise. Associated Industries of Florida gave Bennett the lowest score of any Republican in the Florida Legislature for his voting, yet earlier this month gave him their champions of business award.

Bennett reasoned that even though the business groups give him awards, he has no obligation to vote for all of their priorities.

First, consider groups like the Florida Chamber present these kinds of awards to cozy up to legislators. No, they are not trying to buy influence or even access. But they are trying to be seen in a favorable light, buying “image” if you will. Groups who support a legislator tend to get a warmer reception than those who oppose a legislator — and that is merely human nature. It would happen to you, too.

Second, Mike was unopposed and will be back in Tallahassee for the next four years. As one of 40 senators, or rather as one of slightly over 20 Republican Senators, Bennett has significant influence. He will be a chair of at least one committee, and serve on several others.

Finally, and this may be the most important reason: Senator Bennett is campaigning for — and may be leading — the internal race for Senate President in 2010-2012. See, Senators who are fairly certain they will be in office during that time campaign among other Senators for leadership positions. It happens in both parties. However, because chances are strong the Republicans will retain majority control of the Florida Senate for the next few cycles, the Republican campaigns for president tend to draw a lot of attention.

So, Jeremy, don’t look backward at Bennett’s record and ask why. Look forward at Bennett’s future, and you have your answer.

About Jim Johnson

Editor and publisher of The State of Sunshine.
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