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Monday, Jun 18, 2018
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Fla. Chamber of Commerce announces picks for House, Senate races in Tampa Bay

The pro-business Florida Chamber of Commerce has endorsed six Tampa Bay-area candidates for the state Legislature, including a Democrat vying to replace term-limited state Rep. Betty Reed.

“Good government can only be obtained by electing candidates who understand Florida’s future needs and who are not afraid to make bold decisions that will get us there,” said Marian Johnson, the chamber’s senior vice president of political operations, in a statement.

The endorsements include:

♦ Ed Narain, Democratic contender for the House District 61 seat, now held by Reed, D-Tampa. Narain is an area manager for AT&T in Pinellas County, in charge of six retail stores and 70 employees.

He’s one of four Democrats and a write-in in the race.

♦ Jamie Grant, the Republican incumbent in House District 64, including parts of eastern Pinellas and northwest Hillsborough. Grant is a lawyer and tech entrepreneur.

He faces challenges from another Republican and a write-in.

♦ Chris Sprowls, Republican contender for House District 65, which includes Dunedin, Palm Harbor and Tarpon Springs. Sprowls, an assistant prosecutor, is challenging incumbent Rep. Carl Zimmermann, D-Palm Harbor.

♦ Chris Latvala, Republican contender for House District 67, covering Clearwater and Largo. He is among several candidates vying to replace term-limited state Rep. Ed Hooper, R-Clearwater.

Latvala, Hooper’s former aide, is the son of state Sen. Jack Latvala, another Clearwater Republican.

♦ Bill Young, Republican contender for House District 68, including Pinellas Park and St. Petersburg. Young is the son of Pinellas County’s late congressman C.W. Bill Young, the longest-serving Republican member of Congress when he died last October.

He’s taking on Democratic incumbent Dwight Dudley, a defense attorney in St. Petersburg.

♦ Jack Latvala, Republican incumbent for Senate District 20, consisting of northern Pinellas.

Latvala, of Clearwater, faces competition from another Republican who has reported no fundraising and a Libertarian who’s raised nearly $4,000.

Latvala, expected to win re-election, has about $290,000 cash in hand at last report.

The chamber also endorsed incumbent GOP Gov. Rick Scott and all the current Florida Cabinet members: Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, also all Republicans.

The chamber said it will announce further endorsements “in the coming days.”