Tampa Bay’s most powerful politicians: #11 – Gus Bilirakis

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#11 on the list of Tampa Bay’s most powerful politicians is Congressman Gus Bilirakis.

“The office voters give you comes with power; it’s up to the office holder to decide how to use it. Consistently underestimated and underrated by friend and foe alike Congressman Gus Bilirakis has quietly put together a political career that is the envy of politicians and power brokers throughout Tampa Bay. … Winning his father’s old seat in the 2006 election, Congressman Bilirakis was elected in a year when Congressional Republicans lost 30 house seats nationwide and their congressional majority.

“It’s easy to forget that Bilirakis served 4 terms in the Florida House where he convinced state leaders to allow then St Pete Jr. College to issue 4 year degrees in teaching and nursing, a program that led to SPC being redefined as a college and a statewide opportunity for every Floridian to obtain affordable 4 year degrees. 

“As a congressman, he has worked across the aisle to get his bills and amendments passed. Bilirakis is the master of building coalitions, getting others to help and working the amendment process to great effect. He has used his power in congress to get the Obama administration to make the rights of religious minorities in Islamic countries a priority, got legislation passed to improve security on our railroad and public transit systems and fought for more educational opportunities for our veterans.

“Cruising to reelection for a 4th congressional term, Bilirakis finds himself a congressman all locals will work with regardless of party. He is a newly appointed member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has the broadest jurisdiction of any congressional authorizing committee, is Vice Chairman of the Veterans Committee, and has previously served as a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and as the House Republican’s top watchdog over the Department of Homeland Security.

“Underestimated and underrated the whole way!” — Former Pinellas County Commissioner Neil Brickfield.

For a complete explanation of how this list was created and who comprised the panel which assembled it, please read here.

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.