The Surprise Regional Chamber released its first-round list of endorsed candidates, breaking its more than 50-year tradition on staying out of political races.
The nine candidates are running for the state legislature in Districts 13, 21 and 22.
Arizona state Sen. Rick Gray (R-Sun City) received the first endorsement the day before the rest of the endorsements were released publicly.
The other Senate endorsements are Sine Kerr (District 13) and David Livingston (District 22).
The House endorsements the Surprise Chamber issued were Tim Dunn and Jeanne Osborne in District 13, Kevin Payne and Tony Rivero in District 21 and Frank Carrol and Ben Toma in District 22.
All of the candidates the Surprise Chamber is endorsing are incumbents.
“The chamber’s endorsements go to candidates who have a proven track record on issues that are important to businesses and their employees,” said Raoul Sada, the president and CEO of the Surprise Chamber. “The candidates we have endorsed understand the importance of advancing legislation that encourages economic growth, job creation, and a less intrusive government.”
Government Relations Chair Chris Herring said the chamber’s endorsement will go a long way.
“The Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce is the most influential and most successful business advocate in the northwest Valley, promoting business and economic growth,” he said. “A chamber endorsement will give confidence and direction to the business leaders in El Mirage, Sun City, Sun City West, Surprise, Waddell, and Youngtown.”
Bill Vensell, the organization’s board chairman, said leadership and accountability were behind the chamber’s endorsements.
“The board of directors recently adopted the candidate endorsement policy because leadership matters in both the public sector and the private sector, and we need strong leadership,” Mr. Vensell said. “Secondly, we need to hold elected officials accountable based on their voting records.”
The endorsement pronouncement comes on the heels of another significant announcement by the chamber this month, which was a local government policy agenda.
The policies addressed in the agenda were strategically chosen based on a combination of the chamber’s state legislative agenda and feedback from the local business community.
The chamber’s priorities represent and advocate for what citizens and business community have asked for and continue to request, and that is building a healthy and vibrant community by ensuring an environment where business can prosper.
“The same process of holding state elected officials accountable will apply to local government as well,” Mr. Herring said.
Chambers across the country are moving away from a 1960s model that emphasized parades, parties, pageants, and mixers to a newer model of representing the interests of the business community.
Survey data from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce indicated that 75% of all chambers have a public policy program.
Another survey by the Western Association of Chamber Executives (WACE) showed, with some surprise, slightly more chambers reported advocating on the state level than they do on the local level.
However, this appears to be changing, as well. The same survey indicated that 34% of all chambers are now making endorsements. In sharp contrast to 34%, only 8% of the chambers with contracts with local government endorsed candidates.
A similar study by the U.S. Chamber indicated that chambers that received monies for local and county governments were significantly less likely to advocate on behalf of the business community.
“This not surprising,” Mr. Herring said. “It is hard to be a watchdog and hold elected officials accountable if your organization is highly dependent on government funding.”
According to the 2019 WACE survey, there are six chambers in the Phoenix metro area that now endorse political candidates.
For information about the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce, log on to surpriseregionalchamber.com.