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Meet Cesar Fernandez, one of the ’30 under 30′ rising stars of Florida politics

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

There’s no doubt Cesar Fernandez stays plenty busy, but he’s happy to have turned in the Red Bull and cold pizza of his campaign days for more comfortable digs now that he works for Uber.

Managing up to a half dozen “conversations” about transportation network companies at any one time with myriad Florida cities and counties, things still get hectic to be sure. But Fernandez – by now a familiar face to many observers of state politics – is glad to be playing a “longer game.”

“I loved my time campaigning, doing important work for good candidates,” says Fernandez. “But the nine-month employment window — if you’re lucky — makes for a hectic schedule and most of the time, not much time to enjoy weekends or see my family.”

I am … 26

I live in … Miami

I got into politics because… I wanted to change the world, of course.

One principle I always put above politics is… loyalty – there are people in this world that matter more to me than any chess move in politics.

Person or people who gave me my first shot… John Brushwood, Steve Schale, Beth Kennedy, Jason Roth and Jeff Clemens.

I’ve already worked for/on… I spent more time in campaign offices than in class during college, but professionally: I was an aide in the state Senate for a year, managed the successful campaigns of Sen. Jeff Clemens and Mayor Rick Kriseman, did a 2012 general election stint at the Florida Justice Association. Most recently, I was the political director on Gov. Crist’s campaign.

When I begin a project or first work on a campaign, I look for…  I look to surround myself with people that are smarter and work harder than me.

I’ve been blessed to have these people as my mentors… Omar Khan, Donna Waller, Dan Gelber, Tyler Hudson, Gary Farmer.

The people I most admire in politics are… I really admire people in politics who are authentic and have a ton of fun in public office. I think Mayor Rick Kriseman in St. Petersburg fits this description really well. It’s refreshing to work with someone who isn’t changed by “the process.” The guy is the same person to the public than that of who he is at home.

One lesson I’ve already learned is… You need to turn it off sometimes, build real friendships, have fun, don’t take yourself too seriously.

If I wasn’t working in politics, I’d be working in… Private equity. Those guys gamble with other people’s money on private companies. When they win, they become billionaires. Seems fun.

In 10 years, you’ll read about me… Working on flying autonomous vehicle policy.

You can connect with me on social media: Twitter: @CesarFernandezd

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at

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