Chamber backs Legg in primary
The Florida Chamber of Commerce has endorsed John Legg in the Senate District 17 race in Hillsborough and Pasco counties, but didn't pick a candidate in the Rachel Burgin-Tom Lee primary race in east Hillsborough or the Jeff Brandes-Jim Frishe race in Tampa-St. Petersburg. The chamber, one of the leading business lobbying groups in Florida, announced 21 endorsements in state Senate races and 50 in House races. All but 12 of the endorsees were Republicans. Legg, a state House member, has the backing of top Senate leaders and a who's-who list of other Republican luminaries in the GOP primary for District 17, which covers eastern Pasco and northwestern Hillsborough. He faces former state Rep. Rob Wallace and Marine Corps veteran and security consultant John Korsak in the primary. The Burgin-Lee and Brandes-Frishe primaries also promise to be hard-fought. Asked whether chamber action could be coming in those races, chamber spokeswoman Edie Ousley replied, "There are a handful of races still under consideration for endorsement."Legg also got the endorsement of the Tampa Bay Builders Association last week. NRA favors Lee in District 24 primary The Florida chapter of the National Rifle Association has endorsed Tom Lee in the District 24 state Senate Republican primary race against state Rep. Rachel Burgin. "No other candidate in the race has the background of dedicated legislative service that you have demonstrated" to protection of gun rights, wrote Marion Hammer, head of United Sportsmen of Florida and past NRA president. The letter said Lee got an "A-Plus" rating from the NRA and a "strong pro-gun" rating from United Sportsmen for his answers to a candidate questionnaire. Sarasota Republicans to honor Trump The Sarasota County Republican Party will honor Donald Trump as "Statesman of the Year" at a fundraising dinner Aug. 26. In a news release, county GOP Chairman Joe Gruters called Trump "a sage, skilled and seasoned political leader" with "great vision and perspective," and "a keynote leader in this country who commands attention and serious consideration from people of all partisan persuasions." Trump follows Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, the county party's statesman of the year in 2011. The dinner, to be held Aug. 26 at the Ritz Carlton in Sarasota, costs $150 a person; $500 for a photo with Trump; or $1,000 for a VIP reception with Trump. Islam the enemy? Debaters to clash The Tampa Tiger Bay Club will host a debate at its Wednesday lunch meeting that could be interesting. Local Republican political consultant Chris Ingram will debate Tom Trento, an activist against what he calls "shariah Islam," over Ingram's recent op-ed article, "The enemy isn't Islam." Ingram's May 15 Tribune op-ed argued that local activists who oppose such events as a Tampa meeting of the Islamic Society of North America are blaming an entire religion for the actions of a few, noting that Christians have their own history of religious persecution. It generated anger among local Christian activists who, for example, have engaged in a campaign against Muslim speakers in local schools. Trento, on the other hand, works with an organization called the United West, and says on its website, "It is the height of foolishness to think as though we are not engaged in a knock-down, drag-out battle for the American way of life." The Tiger Bay Club is a forum that prides itself on tough questioning of political figures. Registration for the lunch -- $25 for members, $30 for guests – starts at 11:30 at Maestro's at the Straz Center.