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In the Departure Lounge: Ryan Smith, Sydney Ridley, and Chris Spencer

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The period right after a Legislative Session often sees a flurry of personnel moves in the world of government and politics. Continuing this occasional series, we update you on who’s in the Departure Lounge.

First up is Ryan Smith, the dedicated aide to House Speaker Steve Crisafulli. Smith has left his position as Deputy Chief of Staff to work on the congressional campaign of Matt Gaetz.

“Proud to announce that brilliant @SmithAPalooza will join #TeamGaetz as Campaign Manager & Chief Foodie,” Gaetz tweeted Friday.

Recognized as one of SaintPetersBlog’s “30 under 30 Rising Stars of Florida Politics,” Smith’s first political job came from Michael Ayers, who hired him as an RPOF intern in 2006. From there, Chip Case hired him to run Crisafulli’s 2008 campaign, and then as his legislative assistant. Smith also worked on Will Weatherford’s 2010 campaign and as Deputy Director of House Campaigns for the Florida GOP.

Another “30 under 30 Rising Star” in the Departure Lounge is Sydney Ridley, the University of Virginia grad who has for nearly six years served as one of Rep. Dana Young‘s chief legislative aides, will serve full-time as the campaign manager of Young’s campaign for Senate District 18.

“She has been an incredible partner in my very active legislative office,” Young wrote on Facebook. “I am delighted to have her running the campaign.”

Melonie Hoyt, a 20-year vet of the legislative process who had been Young’s District Aide will serve as her Legislative Aide, while Gloria Perez will return to Young’s office as the DA.

Yet another “30 under 30 Rising Star” is also transitioning from the Legislature to the campaign side of politics. Sen. Jeffrey Brandes‘ energetic staffer, Chris Spencer, will run Brandes’ re-election campaign as well as the statewide ballot initiative that would extend a residential property tax exemption for renewable energy to commercial property.

Despite this shake-up, Spencer confirms to Florida Politics that he will still be in charge of the Tiki Defense Committee at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, 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.

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