Sixth annual list of Tampa Bay’s 25 Most Powerful Politicians

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There certainly has been a great deal of change since we published last year’s annual list of the Most Powerful Politicians in Tampa Bay.

First of all, the website we published it to — — is shuttered after the decision was made to focus all of our reporting energies into

Second, and more important as it relates to this list, last year’s #1, former state Sen. Jack Latvala, is nowhere to be found on this list after he resigned in scandal in late 2017.

With the top spot being vacated that obviously means there will be a new #1, but it also likely means there is additional volatility up and down on the list. Who stepped up to fill the vacuum created by Latvala’s exit?

In compiling the 2018 list, Florida Politics queried several of the region’s leading political consultants, activists, bloggers, operatives and local lobbyists to name who they consider the 25 most powerful pols in the area. No suggested names were provided.

For this exercise, the Tampa Bay region is defined as Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco, but can also include Hernando, Polk or Sarasota, particularly if politicians from those counties impact either Pinellas or Hillsborough.

Among those on the 2017 panel: Democratic consultant Tom Alte and Meagan Salisbury of Blue Ticket Consulting, Laura Boehmer of Southern Strategy Group — Tampa Bay, Tucker/Hall president Bill Carlson, Ana Cruz of Ballard Partners, investigative journalist Mike Deeson, political consultant Barry EdwardsMatt Florell of St. Pete Polls, former Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Chairman Mike Griffin, Tampa Bay politico Carrie Henriquez, columnist Joe Henderson, Democratic activist Shannon Love, political strategist Jennifer Lux, Momentum Strategy Group president Brock Mikosky, former state Rep. Edwin Narain, former state Rep. Seth McKeel of Southern Strategy Group — Tampa Bay, Dr. Darryl Paulson, professor emeritus at USF, Anthony Pedicini and Tom Piccolo of Strategic Image Management, Tom Scherberger of the Hillsborough County Clerk’s Office, Chris Spencer of GrayRobinson, Alan Suskey of Suskey Consulting, J.D. White of Mercury Public Affairs, and public affairs consultant Michelle Schorsch.

Being listed first on a panelist’s list earned 25 points, second earned 24 points and so on. Listing as 25th received one point. Points were then added up and — voilà — the list was created.

In the top four or five slots might be who you’d expect. But once you pass that, the list starts to get truly fascinating.

And a few names not included could indeed be a surprise.

With that introduction, we ask you to please stay tuned to Florida Politics throughout the week as we count down the 25 most influential political figures in Tampa Bay. Follow the list on Twitter with #Top25InTB.

P.S. Thank you to Kate Bradshaw, formerly of the Tampa Tribune and Creative Loafing, for writing the profiles about each politician on the list. And a special thanks to Southern Strategy Group — Tampa Bay, which sponsored this year’s rankings. With their deep involvement in the Tampa Bay community, no wonder it’s signing high-profile clients like the remade ZooTampa.

#1 — Chris Sprowls

#2 — Bob Buckhorn

#3 — Bill Galvano 

#4 — Rick Kriseman

#5 — Wilton Simpson 

#6 — Kathy Castor

#7 — Richard Corcoran

#8 — Jeff Brandes

#9 — Ken Hagan

#10 — Darryl Rouson

#11 — Ken Welch

#12 — Janet Cruz

#13 — Sandra Murman

#14 — Tom Lee

#15 — Gus Bilirakis

#16 — Charlie Crist

#17 — Dana Young

#18 — Bob Gualtieri 



#19 — Janet Long

#20 — Vern Buchanan 

#21 — Andrew Warren

#22 — Darden Rice

#23 — Chad Chronister

#24 — Chris Latvala 

#25 — Les Miller (tie)

#25 — Ben Diamond (tie)

Peter Schorsch

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.


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 @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

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