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Meet Jonathan Rees — One of the 30-under-30 rising stars of Florida Politics

ReesJonathan Rees has been a fixture in political circles since he graduated from Florida State, first working for Associated Industries of Florida and then with Dover Republican Rep. Ross Spano.

Now, he’s deputy director of legislative affairs for Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

Here’s Rees in his own words.

I am (age) … 28 years old

I live in … Tallahassee … going on 11 years now

I got into politics because … I wish I had an awe-inspiring story, but simply put, I came back to Tallahassee the fall after college graduation to see Miami play FSU (go Noles!). To justify the time and expense with my folks, I interviewed with a lobbying firm and realized I had a golden opportunity on my hands. Arranged my follow-up interview for the next home game and got the job.

One principle I always put above politics is … work ethic. The most successful people I’ve seen around this place are always the hardest working, without exception. Loyalty and candor are also up there.

Person or people who gave me my first shotJose Gonzalez gave me my first shot right out of college with AIF. In fact, I owe a lot of my success to the team at AIF — Brewster Bevis, Ryan Tyson, Tammy Perdue, et al.

I’ve already worked for/on (campaign, issues, etc.) … I got my start with Associated Industries of Florida working on business issues, both in a lobbying and political capacity. Getting my start in the private sector provided a unique experience that I’m grateful for. After three years with AIF, I took an opportunity with Rep. Spano to work on his first House election campaign, becoming his legislative aide during the 2013 legislative session. I’ve since worked for Commissioner Putnam for three bang-up sessions as a deputy legislative affairs director with my PIC Grace Lovett.

When I begin a project or first work on a campaign, I look for … a solid coalition or group of stakeholders that will help my principal be successful. Over the years, I’ve found that building a successful team is the key to success in just about any facet of politics — whether you’re running a campaign, lobbying the halls or winning back-to- back seasons for the House’s legislative kickball team.

I’ve been blessed to have these people as my mentors … above all, my father; however, I’ve been blessed to have superiors and co-workers who (whether they realize it or not) have been incredible mentors including Commissioner Putnam, Rep. Spano, Jose Gonzalez, Stephen Shiver, Brock Mikosky and Grace Lovett.

The people I most admire in politics are … those who are forthright and take the time to explain both sides of the issue — pros and cons, proponents and opponents. You can be strategic and effective without lobbying like it’s your last session in town.

One lesson I’ve already learned is … something my dad always taught me growing up: Think before you speak. It’s incredible how much that rings true in politics.

If I wasn’t working in politics, I’d be … a trader working on Wall Street, betting on politics.

In 10 years, you’ll read about me … this question makes me nervous.

Written By

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was 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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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
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St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

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