No. 10 on the list of Tampa Bay’s Most Powerful Politicians: Danny Burgess

Burgess climbed 14 spots this year — a tremendous leap for the young Senator.

Pasco County Sen. Danny Burgess jumped 14 spots this year, landing in the Top 10 of Tampa Bay’s Most Powerful Politicians — a steep climb from the edge of the list at No. 24 last year.

Burgess’ rocket to the No. 10 spot comes after chairing the Senate Legislative Reapportionment Subcommittee. Holding that coveted role allotted Burgess tremendous power, influencing the shape of Senate jurisdictions in the redistricting process.

Senate President Wilton Simpson also assigned Burgess to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee this Session, a role previously held by Sen. Jeff Brandes, who found himself at odds with several GOP priorities during the 2021 Legislative Session.

And it’s still only Burgess’ first term as a Senator.

With such established GOP backing, the young Senator is already showing signs of a promising future in the Legislature. Burgess finished the 2022 Session with 15 bills signed or headed to the Governor’s desk — the most of any legislator this year.

“Public service runs in Sen. Burgess’ DNA, and it is clear that he has a deep love for his community. He balances being a legislator, tireless advocate, and veteran with the most important job of all — a devoted husband and father,” said Natalie King of RSA Consulting.

“He has a positive energy that radiates throughout the Legislature, and it is rare that you meet someone who is so well-liked and deeply respected by members of both parties, even in the most partisan of moments. He is a wonderful friend to many, and he has a bright future ahead of him.”

During his time as Senator, Burgess — a Captain in the U.S. Army Reserve — has championed legislation supporting veterans. This past Session, he successfully sponsored a bill (SB 1712) to require the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs (FDVA) to provide suicide prevention training to veteran service organizations as part of a pilot program.

“Affable. Effective. Loyal. In my opinion, those three words sum up Sen. Danny Burgess,” said GOP strategist Anthony Pedicini.

“In his brief tenure in the state Senate, Sen. Burgess has carried some of the toughest and most covered legislation of any legislator. A close ally of Wilton Simpson, future Agriculture Commissioner, Danny gets to work early and often leaves late. He is often seen accompanied by his family and politically savvy wife, Courtney. Burgess has proved he can run an agency or a small town. He’s beloved back in his district and he deserves to be on this list.”

Burgess has also been trusted to carry GOP priority legislation throughout his time in the Senate.

He sponsored a bill (SB 7014) that extended the protections health care providers currently have from COVID-19-related lawsuits. The initial measure was a Republican priority last year, and the vote to extend it largely fell along party lines.

Burgess also led the charge on an amendment to store only $500 million in a proposed Emergency Preparedness and Response Fund to be spent at the Governor’s discretion. The original measure (SB 96) would have installed $1 billion into the fund. Gov. Ron DeSantis asked the Legislature to establish the fund last year.

Burgess raised the amendment to halve the amount in the fund after receiving input from both Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

In the prior Session, Simpson appointed Burgess to head the Select Committee on Pandemic Preparedness and Response, a committee that emerged in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That same Session, Burgess sponsored the controversial GOP priority bill SB 484, which toughened Florida laws regarding violent or destructive protesters and punished municipalities that seek to slash police budgets.

“Sen. Burgess has shown himself to be a strong and effective leader in the Florida Senate. Last year, he successfully navigated unprecedented challenges as the Chair of the Senate’s Pandemic Select Committee. This year, he served as the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Chair of the Legislative Redistricting Committee. He performed both duties with excellence and great success,” Senate President Simpson said.

“Specifically, the Senate’s legislative map passed unanimously and was also unanimously approved by the Supreme Court. An amazing accomplishment by an outstanding Senator. In addition to his service to our country as a soldier, our state as a Senator, he is a dedicated family man. There are few that can claim success in as many areas as Sen. Burgess.”

Burgess has also made multiple attempts to clear legislation to repeal Florida’s motor vehicle no-fault law, which requires drivers to carry personal injury protection. Despite support from Simpson, the Senator has had no luck in clearing the bill.

Before his time in the Senate, DeSantis appointed Burgess to serve as the executive director of the FDVA, a position he held from 2018 until his Senate campaign launch in the summer of 2020.

“Sen. Burgess is one of the nicest and most considerate legislators I have ever met. What makes him special is that he treats everyone he encounters with respect. I have seen him interact with constituents, lobbyists, legislators and business leaders,” said Shawn Foster of Sunrise Consulting Group. “Each one is given the same treatment and respect. Don’t mistake that kindness for weakness, though. He is not afraid to tackle the tough issues that come before the Legislature.”

Burgess won Senate District 20 in a Special Election in November 2020, where he received about 55% of the vote against Democrat Kathy Lewis. The race between the two came to be after the early resignation of Sen. Tom Lee.

Burgess has largely defined himself as a family man throughout his career. The Senator is active in sharing highlights of his life with three young children and his wife. And of course, their dog, Briar Burgess, brings a smile to Republicans and Democrats alike in Tallahassee.

Burgess is already planning to run for re-election in 2022 when the seat is up for election again.

Joe Henderson’s take: After leading the Select Subcommittee on Legislative Reapportionment, Burgess joined the powerhouse law firm Shumaker’s Dade City office. His experience in Tallahassee is a big plus in his new role. Smart move by Shumaker. The firm is assembling quite a bench, including former Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and former St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman.


As for methodology, we define the Tampa Bay region as Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco, but can also include Hernando, Polk or Sarasota — if the politicians from those counties impact either Pinellas or Hillsborough.

We define a politician as being in office or running for office.

Being first on a panelist’s list earns the politician 25 points, second earns them 24 points and so on, to where being listed 25th earns a politician one point. Points are added and, voilà, we have a list.

Special thanks go to our experienced and knowledgeable panelists, who were essential to developing the 2022 list: Christina Barker of the Vinik Family Office, Ashley Bauman of Mercury, Ed Briggs of RSA Consulting, Ricky Butler of the Pinellas Co. Sheriff’s Office, Reggie Cardozo of The Public Square, Ronald Christaldi of Schumaker, Evan Donovan of WFLA, Joe Farrell of Pinellas Realtors, pollster Matt Florell of Vicidial Group, Shawn Foster of Sunrise Consulting Group, political consultant Max GoodmanMike Griffin of Savills, Joe Henderson, Todd Josko of Ballard Partners, Natalie King of RSA Consulting, Patrick Manteiga, publisher of LaGaceta, Seth McKeel of The Southern Group, Jennifer Motsinger, EVP of Tampa Bay Builders Association, Mitch Perry of Charter News, Ron Pierce of RSA Consulting, Preston Rudie of Catalyst Communications Group, and Alan Suskey of Shumaker Advisors. With Michelle and Peter Schorsch.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected].


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