GOP Senate candidates aren't ready to support or oppose trade deal

Published Oct. 19, 2015

Republican candidates for the open U.S. Senate seat — including two sitting congressmen — aren't ready to weigh in on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a controversial agreement expected to open up trade with Asian countries.

But while U.S. Reps. David Jolly, R-Indian Shores, and Ron DeSantis, R-Ponte Vedra Beach, and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera aren't ready to say yes or no to the deal, they can claim common ground. In short: Trade is good, but the Republican candidates don't necessarily trust the Obama administration to broker a deal.

"I am going into the legislation looking to support it," Jolly said last Wednesday at an Associated Press event in Tallahassee. "But I understand that we have for the last six years suggested that the president has pursued goals of labor and other regulatory actions that actually hinder economic growth and hinder job growth."

DeSantis and Jolly, who will have a vote on the deal, both said they are waiting to read it before coming out publicly in favor or opposition. Jolly even took to task those members of Congress who have already expressed their opinions.

"Once it comes over to Congress, we have a very significant time period to review it, and I'm going to review it very closely," DeSantis said. "I think opening markets could be a huge boon for Florida, but we have to look at the details and say, "Okay, is this something that is liberalizing and I think that would be pro-growth, or are there things in there that are essentially picking winners and losers? Is there any diminution of American sovereignty?'"

He, unlike his opponents in the Republican primary to replace Sen. Marco Rubio, did not call out the president directly.

Lopez-Cantera, however, did. And, he said, trade is very important for Florida's economy but that he didn't know full details about the bill.

"I can tell you that I'm a big believer in trade, especially as it relates to Florida," Lopez-Cantera said. "That being said, the devil's always in the details, and some of the other details of other agreements that the president has negotiated I'm not in favor of. I would approach it with doubt, but I'm a big believer in trade, especially for Florida."