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Chamber backs Lisbon in his primary challenge against Rep. Gibbons

The Florida Chamber of Commerce has endorsed Sheldon Lisbon, a Democratic candidate for state house in the new District 100 which runs from Surfside to Dania Beach. Lisbon is running against State Rep. Joe Gibbons (D-Hallandale Beach).

Although Gibbons is running for his third term and has about double the size of Lisbon's campaign account, this could be a competitive race because 57 percent of the voters live in Miami-Dade County. Gibbons lives in Broward while Lisbon lives in Surfside, a small community in Miami-Dade County, where he served for a few months on the Town Commission before resigning to run for state house.

The chamber gave Gibbons a "D" on its 2012 legislative report card. But the big issue which could have cost Gibbons the endorsement was his support for expanding gambling to include large destination resorts -- something the Chamber opposed earlier this  year.

Gibbons says that if done correctly, expanded gambling would create jobs and boost tourism.

Lisbon has criticized Gibbons for taking donations from those in the gambling industry. But in an interview  with the Miami Herald, Lisbon didn't entirely rule out supporting a gambling expansion. When asked if he was flat-out opposed he said "no"  but that he doesn't want it near religious institutions or schools.

"Personally I am opposed to gambling but if it brings in money ... it has to take into consideration how it will impact the community -- the traffic impact, negative impact on schools. ... I don't want it to be a Las Vegas kind of town." 

The Chamber doesn't release candidate questionnaires but spokeswoman Edie Ousley said that Lisbon  told the chamber that "he does oppose the expansion of casino gambling" and therefore his position is in line with the chamber's position.

The Associated Industries of Florida, a business group that supported destination gambling resorts, endorsed Gibbons.