Meet Stephen Lawson – one of the “30 under 30” rising stars of Florida Politics

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Stephen Lawson wants everyone to know — but especially University of Florida alum — that it’s possible to live happily as a Gator in Seminole Country. He’s living proof.

As president of the Capital Area Gator Club in Tallahassee, Lawson says, “there’s a strong vibrant Gator presence in Tallahassee.”

Stephen says he’s in a unique position — he grew up in Tallahassee, earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and classics at UF and a master’s in applied American politics and policy at FSU.

Make no mistake; he’s strictly an orange-and-blue guy.

Spending time on the campuses of archrivals was good preparation for his career in politics.

As the Rapid Response Director in Gov. Rick Scott’s re-election campaign, Stephen says he’s “the first line of defense” when the opposition lobs something at the governor.

“I have a research background. Because of that background, I am very familiar with things that Charlie Crist has said or done in the past and that helps us know how to respond.”

Stephen enjoys digging into issues and policy.

“I love that aspect. It’s what drives a lot of communications.”

Stephen said he has to be passionate about the person he is working for.

“I am unequivocally passionate about the governor. He’s done a tremendous job of turning the state around. I love getting that message out.”

Getting the governor re-elected is dominating his life at the moment, but when he does have free time he loves getting outdoors.

“I love to golf, fish, travel. I was out in California in May and played golf at Pebble Beach and Monterey Bay. That was in my top 5 lifetime experiences. It’s such a beautiful part of the country.”

Oh, and football. He’s been known to go to a game or two.

Here is Stephen in his own words:

I am 26 years old and …

I live in Tallahassee AND grew up in Tallahassee I graduated from The University of Florida with a BA in Political Science and Classics and Florida State University with an MS in Applied American Politics and Policy I hope to visit Greece and Italy. From a young age I’ve had a fondness for the Classics and history, so finally being able to visit the Mediterranean would be a dream come true.

I got into politics… I’d have to say my mom had a pretty big impact. She worked at DOE under Governor Bush and later in the Senate on the Education Committee, so I grew up around it. Having a part, however small, in the process of making Florida a better place has always been a huge draw for me.

One principle I always put above politics is… Respect. Regardless of opinion or ideology, trying to find the good in any person or situation is important to me.

Person or people who gave me my first shot… Josh Cooper and Melissa Sellers.

I’ve already worked for/on… Republican Party of Florida, NG Strategies/Strategic Information Consultants, Rick Scott for Florida.

When I begin a project or first work on a campaign, I look for… The overarching themes, how to develop and maneuver them to accomplish the end goal.

I’ve been blessed to have these people as my mentors… Paul Mitchell, David Mica, Josh Cooper, Mike Grissom, Matt Moon, Melissa Sellers.

The people I most admire in politics are… Jeb Bush, Rick Scott, Adam Putnam and Don Gaetz.

One lesson I’ve already learned is… Trust is one of the most important things in politics. Simply put, things happen with it, and without it they don’t.

If I wasn’t working in politics, I’d be working in (which field)… Probably in education. I love to learn, and teaching is one of the best ways to do that.

In 10 years, you’ll read about me… working in politics with the same passion and determination that I have today.

You can connect with me on social media: @StephenLawsonFL.

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.