Orlando business group approves applicants before they even know who’s running

Imagine for a moment that I give you a gift. You can choose between an old sock and a free year of Netflix.

You would choose Netflix, right? (That way you could watch the final season of “Ozark,” even though you’ve come to hate most of the characters, especially Wendy, and can’t imagine what was going through Wyatt’s head when he met Darlene.)

What if I offered you another offer?

You can choose between the sock and Netflix today – or wait a few weeks until I also offer you a new car.

You would expect, wouldn’t you? Because what kind of idiot would make a choice before you knew what all your options were?

A good number, as it turns out. Especially during election years.

Some groups try to get ahead of the campaign curve by endorsing candidates before they even know who is running. The official filing period has not started. For most races, it doesn’t start until June. But these groups — including BusinessForce, which bills itself as Central Florida’s “voice of business” — want to give you the pick before they know all of their options.

Casting aside potential candidates before even knowing who they might be seems like a premature discharge.

It also reminds me of Twitter, where people who don’t know all the facts are dying to give you their opinion.

BusinessForce kicked off its endorsements by backing a trio of Republican lawmakers, including Senator Jason Brodeur, whose last election is still under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for irregularities involving black money and a shadow candidate. .

BusinessForce also approved two incumbents running for the Orange County Commission. Now there are three incumbents running for this board. But BusinessForce — whose board members include the head of the East Orlando Chamber of Commerce — chose not to support the incumbent commissioner who actually represents East Orange County, Maribel Cordero.

Why? Who knows? Andrew Cole, the head of the East Orlando Chamber, did not respond to questions.

Winter Park Chamber of Commerce CEO Betsy Gardner Eckbert, another BusinessForce board member, answered questions but said she couldn’t explain why the group backed some candidates and not others – including the outgoing house representative for her community – because she had not attended recent meetings and was not involved in decisions. (Any influence the band’s endorsements might have come from the names of the board members and their respective organizations, posted on the band’s website.)

I tried to contact several other BusinessForce members, including a Greenberg Traurig attorney and the Kissimmee chamber chief, to ask why they felt confident endorsing candidates in races before the fields were set. . They didn’t answer.

Frankly, I don’t see why anyone would value endorsements from a group that didn’t have all the facts before making decisions and whose members don’t seem interested in defending their decisions or say they have not actually participated in their capture in the first place.

And that’s really the point of today’s article — to encourage you to do a bit of due diligence when considering endorsements this election cycle. (I’ll also offer a suggestion for what I think is a better way to vote wisely.)

Todd Wilcox, the company owner who is president of BusinessForce, said his group didn’t feel like they needed to know for sure that everyone running in races where the candidates had already proven their “pro-business bands”.

Most were Republican incumbents. But the group has also backed a few non-incumbent GOP legislative candidates. And a top Democrat — Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings. (Probably because he’s supposed to wipe the floor with anyone who comes up against him in dark blue Orange County. You might as well back an expected winner.)

Wilcox, a Republican who mounted a short-lived campaign for the U.S. Senate a few years ago, wouldn’t go into detail about his group’s deliberations, but said his group felt comfortable with the first few. selective endorsements and pointed out that it would offer more down the road.

Wilcox also said his pro-business group had no qualms endorsing lawmakers who recently took hasty and retaliatory action against Central Florida’s largest employer, Disney World, saying, “You shouldn’t not get involved in social activism.”

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Hey, if everyone in this group — whose members also include reps from Duke Energy, Clear Channel Outdoor, GrayRobinson and BakerHostetler — feels the same way, then mazel tov.

You should just know how groups like this arrived at their decisions.

Better yet, I encourage you to create your own. Attend a candidate’s forum. Watch a debate. The Orlando Sentinel editorial board tries to interview candidates in all major races, then puts the video of the interview on our website.

You don’t have to agree with editorial board endorsements. Heck, I think I disagreed with almost half of them in the last round of municipal elections. But the interviews allow voters to see and hear the candidates for themselves.

We will probably start making them in a few weeks. Some are dull. Some are fun. Some are crunchy. Most are quite simple.

But one thing the board will do before sending out invitations and making recommendations is know for sure who all the picks are.

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Jennifer C. Burleigh