After reading an article last year from Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel about the most powerful pols in Central Florida, I thought it would be interesting to determine who, in fact, are the 25 most powerful politicians in Tampa Bay.
So I asked several of the leading political consultants, activists, bloggers, operatives and local lobbyists to provide a list of who they consider the 25 most powerful pols in the region.
In addition to Michelle Todd and myself, the panel included: Brian Aungst, Director of Government and Public Affairs at Bright House Networks; Brian Aungst, Jr., an attorney with Macfarlane, Ferguson and McMullen; Laura Boehmer, a lobbyist with Southern Strategy Group; Matt Blair, a lobbyist with Corcoran & Johnston; Democratic activist Ella Coffee; Steve Cona, CEO of Associated Builders and Contractors, Gulf Coast of Florida; Justin Day, a lobbyist with the Advocacy Partners at the Cardenas Group; Tony DeSisto, co-founder of Citizinvestor; Barry Edwards, a Democratic political strategist; Cesar Fernandez, a Democratic political operative; Matt Florell, owner of St. Pete Polls; Carrie Henriquez, a Democratic political strategist; Nick Janovsky, political director for Alex Sink for Congress; Todd Jennings, an attorney at Galloway, Johnson, Tompkins, Burr & Smith; Benjamin Kirby, communications director for St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman.
Also on the panel: Republican activist Matt Lettelier; former City Council candidate David McKalip; GOP consultant Brock Mikosky; former Hillsborough Democratic Party chair Chris Mitchell; communications consultant Aakash Patel, Republican strategist Anthony Pedicini; Creative Loafing political reporter Mitch Perry; former congressional chief of staff Fred Piccolo; consumer advocate Sean Shaw; and lobbyist Alan Suskey of Capitol Insight.
By my count, that’s 12 Republicans, 10 Democrats, three Independents, as well as Michelle and me — two registered Republicans who will be voting for Charlie Crist. In other words, the panel is evenly divided between D’s and R’s.
For the purposes of this experiment, the Tampa Bay region is defined as Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco, but can also includes Hernando, Polk or Sarasota, if the politicians from those counties affect either Pinellas or Hillborough.
Being listed first on a panelist’s list earns the politican 25 points, being second earns him or her 24 points and so on to where being listed 25th earned a politician one point. The points will be added up and, voila!, the list will be created.
So, please check back here on SaintPetersBlog.com beginning Feb. 24 as we count down the 25 most powerful politicians in Tampa Bay.