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Senate candidates DeSantis, Jolly, Lopez-Cantera headline AIF conference

With the halls of the Capitol emptied out after a contentious special session and Gov. Rick Scott on vacation in Colorado, the state's political hotspot this week will be Orlando at the Associated Industries of Florida's annual conference.

The group has six big-name officials lined up to speak Wednesday and Thursday at the JW Marriott Orlando.

Among them are three Republican candidates for U.S. Senate: U.S. Reps. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach and David Jolly of Indian Shores, and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

Fresh off an end of session blow-up, Florida Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, are also both on the agenda, although their appearances are separated by sevaral hours Wednesday morning. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is on the list as well.

AIF was one of the largest supporters of a Medicaid expansion plan in the regular legislative session, but it's notable that their annual conference billing includes supporters and opponents of the proposal, which led to a breakdown of the budget process and ultimately failed in the House during a special session in June.

On Tuesday, AIF hosted a golf tournament at the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando that featured at least 18 state lawmakers as "celebrity golfers."

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