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Burgess previously represented House District 38. (Photo: Florida House of Representatives.)

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Danny Burgess stepping down at Veterans Affairs Department, running for Senate

Senate GOP leadership endorsed him to succeed outgoing Sen. Tom Lee.

Danny Burgess is stepping down as Executive Director of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. In his resignation letter, he makes clear his intention to run for Florida Senate.

“I will remain an advocate for veterans — from the battlefield, to their homecoming and beyond,” Burgess wrote in a resignation letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“At this time, I believe I can best continue to serve my country, my state, and my brothers and sisters in arms as a member of the Florida Senate.”

The letter serves as a two-and-a-half week notice to the administration.

“It is with a heavy heart filled with gratitude that I submit my resignation as Executive Director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs, effective June 18, 2020,” Burgess wrote.

“My gratitude begins with the men and women who wear the uniform. They are the best of us and deserve the best from us. In that regard and so many others, they get that every day from you and your administration.”

The move came days after Senate Republican leadership endorsed Burgess as the best potential Senate candidate in District 20. President-Designate Wilton Simpson and Senate Republican Leader Kathleen Passidomo issued their support shortly after Sen. Tom Lee announced he would resign the seat early.

State Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis added his support for Burgess on Monday.

“I received a resignation letter from @DannyBurgessFL from the directorship of @FLVetsAffairs today,” Patronis tweeted. “Danny is an amazing public servant, I’m a believer that he will have a bright future because of this servants heart that he has. To Danny, I encourage, #RunDannyRun!”

DeSantis tapped Burgess to run Veterans Affairs in December 2018, a position that earns the Executive Director $151,000 per year, shortly after his own election. The Florida Cabinet confirmed him unanimously a month later.

Burgess, a Zephyrhills Republican, previously won election to the Florida House for three terms, starting in 2014. He won election to a third term in 2018 with 66% of the vote over Democrat David Hayes before resigning his seat to join the administration.

His old House district significantly overlaps with Lee’s Senate district.

A Captain and a Judge Advocate in the Army Reserve, Burgess came on board promising to push for a number of veteran priorities addressing homelessness and occupational licensing for former members of the military. Prior to his House stint, he was briefly the Mayor of Zephyrhills.

Other names floated as possible successors included former Sen. Dana Young, Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White, Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore and Plant City Mayor Rick Lott.

Rep. Jamie Grant had been rumored as a contender but has said he won’t run if Burgess does.

On Monday, Wesley Chapel Democrat Kathy Lewis, who lost by 7 percentage points to Lee in 2018, opened a campaign account for the District 20 seat.

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com.

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