Meet Kevin Reilly – one of the 30 under 30 rising stars in Florida politics

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Kevin Reilly got into politics as a little kid sitting at the grownups’ table listening to his grandfather talk about the issues.

So it was natural for him to get involved in student government at the University of Florida and was elected student body president. His leadership caught the eye of fellow Gator, Rep. John Tobia, who took him on as an aide.

Since then he’s worked for the Republican Party and the Department of Elder Affairs. Currently he is legislative affairs director for the state Parole Commission.

Once upon a time, he had ambitions of running for office, but now that the curtain has been lifted, he sees what can be accomplished behind the scenes.

“I have the utmost respect for anyone who is willing to put themselves out there and make the sacrifices for public office,” Kevin says, “I’ve seen all that goes into it. The sacrifices they make with their personal and family life.”

Having grown up in Pinellas County, Kevin is a big Tampa Bay Rays fan.

“It’s been a tough year for them, but they’re a fun team to watch.”

Here’s Kevin in his own words:

I am 28 years old and …

I live in Tallahassee but grew up mostly in Palm Harbor (I moved a lot as a kid) I graduated from The University of Florida. I hope to visit Italy and Ireland to see where my family is from.

I got into politics, as a kid. I had an innate interest in politics from a very young age and was always drawn to it. I think a lot of it was inspired by my grandfather who was always engaged in the political process. This led to running for and being elected Student Body President at the University of Florida, which helped me begin my career in the political process.

One principle I always put above politics is… Integrity — Your reputation in this industry is your greatest commodity.  Your ability to succeed is going to be based on how people perceive you and a lot of that comes from being a person of character.  If people don’t know you to be a person of integrity, you’ll find yourself isolated fairly quickly

Person or people who gave me my first shot… State Rep. John Tobia hired me as a kid fresh out of UF to work as his aide.

I’ve already worked for/on… A gubernatorial campaign, a state representative as a legislative aide, two state agencies as a legislative affairs director, and in a fundraising capacity with the Republican Party of Florida in House campaigns.

When I begin a project or first work on a campaign, I look for… the path to success. Before diving in, I step back and take a comprehensive view of the ultimate goal, then develop the most efficient strategy for success.

I’ve been blessed to have these people as my mentors… there are too many to name. I have had the good fortune to be given guidance and counsel from countless people. Most of the experienced professionals in this state are happy to help those who are beginning their career navigate this process.

The people I most admire in politics are… the families. They sacrifice a lot with little to no fanfare.

One lesson I’ve already learned is… true friendship is hard to find in this business. A lot of relationships are transactional; it’s important to recognize the difference.

If I wasn’t working in politics, I’d be working in (which field)… sports. I would love to be working in the front office for a baseball team (preferably the Rays).

In 10 years, you’ll read about me… and my wife Andrea giving back to our alma mater, The University of Florida.

You can connect with me on social media: Facebook, Twitter: @kfreilly.

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.