No. 22 on the list of Tampa Bay’s Most Powerful Politicians: Chris Nocco

Among Nocco’s top issues to date are combating the fentanyl crisis, holding drug dealers accountable and focusing on the county’s most vulnerable, including children.

Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco consistently makes the list of Tampa Bay’s Most Powerful Politicians. The only question seems to be: Where on the list will he land?

This year, he’s at No. 22, a drop from last year when he made his best showing on the list at No. 15. The year before that, he landed at No. 19.

Yo-yo effect or not, there is no denying Nocco’s influence on local politics, particularly in Lakeland and Pasco County.

Now seeking his fourth term as Pasco’s top cop, the telegenic young law enforcement leader has made friends in high places. That includes Richard Corcoran, a former House Speaker who now leads New College of Florida, and another former Speaker, Will Weatherford, who remains well-connected in the Tampa Bay region and beyond.

Nocco’s wife, Bridgette Nocco, is also helpful. She’s affiliated with the powerful lobbying firm Ballard Partners.

Nocco was first appointed to the job in 2011 by then-Gov. Rick Scott. Since then, he has been re-elected consecutively without opposition, though he faces a no-party candidate this cycle.

Among Nocco’s top issues to date are combating the fentanyl crisis, holding drug dealers accountable and focusing on the county’s most vulnerable, including children.

“Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco, has been leading the charge in his community for nearly 14 years to reduce crime, tackle the fentanyl crisis and address human trafficking,” said Natalie King, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for RSA Consulting.

“Although not without controversy, Nocco has been an innovative leader and has done well with building relationships within his community, with key state leaders as well as nationally.”

According to his office, crime in Pasco County has dropped by more than half under Nocco’s leadership, and the agency has been and remains a good steward of taxpayer dollars.

Nocco continues to woo support across the aisle, likely based on his commitment to ongoing community service. Nocco, with Pasco County Tax Collector and fellow beloved leader Mike Fasano, frequently hosts food drives during the holiday season to ensure families have a proper meal. This past season was the 29th such event, providing fresh produce and holiday fixin’s, enough food for more than just a holiday dinner.

What’s perhaps shocking about Nocco’s position on this year’s list, though, is that he actually dropped a few spots. It’s been a couple of years since Nocco was in the news, but not for a good reason. Nocco, in 2022, faced a lawsuit from a coalition of civil rights organizations over the Sheriff’s Office’s refusal to provide public records relating to its controversial predictive policing program.

Pasco County’s predictive policing program became the subject of national news after the Tampa Bay Times released an investigation on the initiative, established by Nocco. That investigation found the program was used as an intelligence operation to monitor, intimidate and harass families across the county.

The exposé, entitled “Targeted,” dates back to 2020, yet despite the appearance of scandal, Nocco has remained unscathed and remained popular.

One of Nocco’s most notable accomplishments since taking office relates to human trafficking. Last year, Nocco oversaw the arrest of dozens of individuals accused of large-scale trafficking. Nocco, at the time, detailed to the press how a 16-year-old runaway faced two weeks of sexual battery and sex work. The girl wound up working in adult businesses in both Pasco and Pinellas counties. The investigation and arrests led the Pasco County Commission to consider new adult business rules.



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 1 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 2024 list: Christina Barker of the Vinik Family Office, Ashley Bauman of Mercury, Matthew Blair of Corcoran Partners, Ed Briggs of RSA Consulting, political consultant Maya BrownRicky Butler of the Pinellas Co. Sheriff’s Office, Reggie Cardozo of The Public Square, Ronald Christaldi of Schumaker, Ana Cruz of Ballard Partners, Justin Day of Capital City Consulting, Barry EdwardsJoe Farrell of Pinellas Realtors, pollster Matt Florell of Vicidial Group, Shawn Foster of Sunrise Consulting Group, Adam Giery of Strategos Group, political consultant Max GoodmanMike Griffin of Savills, Natalie King of RSA Consulting, political consultant Benjamin Kirby, TECO Energy Regional Affairs Coordinator Shannon Love, Merritt Martin of Moffitt Cancer Center, Mike Moore of The Southern Group, political consultant Anthony PediciniRon Pierce of RSA Consulting, J.C. Pritchett, pastor of St. Pete’s Faith Church, Darren Richards of Tucker/Hall, Preston Rudie of Catalyst Communications Group, Amanda Stewart of Johnston and Stewart, and Alan Suskey of Shumaker Advisors. With Michelle and Peter Schorsch.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


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