Preliminary thoughts about the 25 Most Powerful Politicians In Tampa Bay

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Later today, we will begin rolling-out  our 2014 list of the 25 Most Powerful Politicians In Tampa Bay 

While there is near unanimity about who is #1 on The List, the rest of the rankings are just All. Over. The. Place. There are at least fifty elected officials receiving votes from panelists, including Pasco County commissioners, Sarasota legislators, etc. 

With Congressman Bill Young — last year’s #2 on The List —  no longer with us and Bill Foster out of office, there’s naturally room for a lot of movement on the list. It’s as if Alabama or Florida State lost a football game and now all of the teams behind them get to move up a spot in the AP poll. 

Bob Buckhorn, who came in last year at #4 on The List, has shot to #1 on several panelists’ rankings, but he’s also dropped on several others. That may put him back at #4 or #5, but it’s interesting to see the varied opinions of his stock. 

Hot commodities this year: State Senator Bill Galvano and Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe.

The most underrated elected official in Tampa Bay has to be Congressman Gus Bilirakis. He’s been around for nearly three decades and he’s still the Rodney Dangerfield of Tampa Bay politics. Despite being a Republican in a Republican U.S. House, he ranks below Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor on several lists.

It will be interesting to see which state Senator — Jeff Brandes or Jack Latvala — ranks higher. Latvala is #1 or #2 on some panelists lists, so it’s likely he will again this year rank ahead of Brandes, but there are several rankings which have Brandes ahead of Latvala. Will there be a changing of the guard as to who is the most powerful state Senator from Tampa Bay?

Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri is now considered the most powerful lawman in Tampa Bay. Gualtieri is ranking higher than David Gee and Grady Judd, as well as any state’s attorneys. Speaking of which, the SAs and judges just don’t seem to be breaking into The List. I wonder why that is?

In a community represented mostly by Republican elected officials, it’s interesting to see which Democrats make The List. After Buckhorn and Castor, there’s little consensus about who the top Democratic elected officials are in Tampa Bay. Is Ken Welch #3 or is it Charlie Justice? What about Karl Nurse? Spoiler alert: Rep. Darryl Rouson may not crack the Top 25!

Keep checking back on SaintPetersBlog for additional thoughts about The List. And be sure to visit the site beginning at 10:00 a.m. to see who are the 25 Most Powerful Politicians In Tampa Bay.

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.