The Freshman Class: Florida's New Representatives
The 2010 elections gave Republicans a veto-proof majority in the Legislature. In the Florida House, Republicans hold an 81-39 majority. In the Senate, GOP pickups included outgoing Sen. Dave Aronberg's seat, which went to Lizbeth Benacquisto, and Sen. Charlie Justice's seat, which sees a return of Jack Latvala. The Republicans now hold a 28-12 majority in that chamber. All told, Tallahassee welcomes 57 newcomers. More important than the Republican-Democrat tally, say political observers, is that the new senators, regardless of party, will be more business-friendly.
Larry Ahern (R), 55, owner/president, Larry Ahern Pool Remodeling
District 51 — part of Pinellas County
Net Worth: $896,024
Notable: Ahern tells Florida Trend he tends to be lucky. "In 1984, I won a 1984 Ford Ranger pickup truck in a contest and, two years later, a 1986 Nissan truck in a similar contest. The Ford truck came at the perfect time. I was hauling my chemicals and equipment around in a 1973 Chevy station wagon I bought for $300."
Ben Albritton (R), 42, citrus grower and managing partner for Albritton Cos.
District 66 — Hardee and parts of Highlands and Polk counties
Net Worth: $867,342
Notable: A citrus grower with a penchant for race car driving, Albritton was a competitor in the race to become House Speaker in 2016 but lost out to Rep. Richard Corcoran.
Frank Artiles (R), 37, owner/CEO of Pinnacle Appraisals and Umpire Services
District 119 — part of Miami-Dade County
Net Worth: $134,500
Notable: An insurance adjuster, lawyer and military veteran, Artiles once told South Florida CEO magazine his ambition is to one day become a developer. "If you look at the history of millionaires in the United States ... most fortunes are won and lost in real estate."
Dennis Baxley* (R), 58, vice president/partner, Hiers-Baxley Funeral Services
District 24 — part of Marion County
Net Worth: $6,832,583
Notable: Baxter served in the Florida House from 2000-08. He says "one of the most important things I can do in the Legislature, and have done, is kill bills." The former Speaker pro tem had expressed an interest in serving as House Speaker but lost out to Richard Corcoran.
Lori Berman (D), 52, attorney; District 86 — part of Palm Beach County
Net Worth: $1,979,750
Notable: The real estate planning attorney and former aide to U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler ties social responsibility to a pro-business agenda with her first bill: HB 197, the "Homeless Tax Credit Bill," would provide tax relief to companies hiring employees residing in temporary, transitional or emergency housing facilities.
Mack Bernard (D), 35,
attorney (elected in a special election Sept. 22, 2009, re-elected subsequently)
District 84 — part of Palm Beach County
Net Worth: $162,715
Notable: A Haitian immigrant who moved to Delray Beach in 1986 at age 10, Bernard says immigration reform should be left up to the federal government. He says he supports an e-verify program allowing employers to check the legal status of potential employees and would support fines on private companies that knowingly hire undocumented workers.
Michael Bileca (R), 41, president, Towncare Dental Partnership
District 117 — part of Miami-Dade County
Net Worth: $1,848,459
Notable: On his Facebook page, Bileca lists three of his favorite books: "Great Dialogues of Plato," Stephen Covey's "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People," and James Thomas Flexner's "Washington: The Indispensable Man."
Jim Boyd (R), 54, CEO and co-owner of Boyd Insurance & Investment Services, licensed real estate broker, president of the Boyd Group
District 68 — parts of Hillsborough and Manatee counties
Net Worth: $3,540,000
Notable: Boyd's uncle, Wilbur Boyd, served in the Florida House and Senate in the 1960s and 1970s and his grandfather, Hugh Boyd, served in the Florida House in the 1940s.
Jeff Brandes (R), 35, certified commercial property manager, director of real estate for Tibbetts Holdings
District 52 — part of Pinellas County
Net Worth: $11,735,000
Notable: A political neophyte and Iraq war veteran, Brandes is also the wealthiest new lawmaker, with a fortune that stems from his family's successful lumber business. His grandfather, Linton Tibbetts, owned Cox Lumber until Home Depot bought the company in 2006.
Jason Brodeur (R), 35, healthcare consultant
District 33 — parts of Orange, Seminole and Volusia counties
Net Worth: $217,685
Notable: Brodeur caused a stir with his first piece of legislation — a bill supported by the National Rifle Association that would make it a felony for physicians to ask patients whether they have a gun in their home. The Florida Medical Association strongly opposes the legislation, arguing that doctors have legitimate reasons for making such inquiries.
Doug Broxson (R), 62, insurance broker
District 1 — parts of Escambia, Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties
Net Worth: $3,259,000
Notable: Broxson generated national attention during his campaign last year, when a political opponent was videotaped removing his campaign signs. Greg Brown Jr. and Brown's wife were each charged with one count of petit theft, but a judge dismissed the charges. The judge ruled that the signs were either on the property of a man who had promised to display only the Browns' signs or on public right-of-way, and that the Browns "had the lawful right" to remove the signs.
Matt Caldwell (R), 29, manager and real estate appraiser with Maxwell & Hendry Valuation Services
District 73 — part of Lee County
Net Worth: (-$94,326)
Notable: Caldwell's hometown newspaper describes the former vice chairman of the county Republican Party as an avid "history buff" and "voracious" reader: "A question on role models becomes a dissertation on Reagan's fight against communism, the founding of the Republican Party by Abraham Lincoln and the oratory skills of Thomas Jefferson."
Daphne Campbell (D), 53, registered nurse
District 108 — part of Miami-Dade County
Net Worth: $462,547
Notable: Campbell —?a native of Haiti who has worked as a critical care, pediatric, adult and geriatric nurse —?says one of her goals in office is to "champion the healthcare concerns" of her community."
Jeff Clemens (D), 40, energy contractor
District 89 — part of Palm Beach County
Net Worth: $31,700
Notable: Clemens has been a newspaper reporter, an aide to former state Rep. Mary Brandenburg and a planner for the Florida Institute of Public Health. The former Lake Worth mayor also plays guitar and sings with the Datura Street Band — and has shared the stage with such notable bands as the Counting Crows, Live, The Wallflowers, Cracker and Dave Matthews Band.
Richard Corcoran (R), 46, attorney
District 45 — parts of Pasco and Pinellas counties
Net Worth: $350,000
Notable: The one-time chief of staff to former House Speaker Marco Rubio has been named Speaker for 2017-18.
Fred Costello (R), 61, dentist
District 26 — parts of Flagler and Volusia counties
Net Worth: $3,052,000
Notable: As mayor of Ormond Beach last April, Costello appeared in a video in his hospital gown just before getting a colonoscopy in order to promote Colon Awareness Month.
Janet Cruz (D), 54,
(elected in a special election Feb. 23, 2010, re-elected subsequently)
District 58 — part of Hillsborough County
Net Worth: $433,500
Notable: Less than a year after being elected in a special election, Cruz was elevated to the post of deputy minority whip. She describes herself as a "good bridge builder" who will work to find ways to work with Republicans.
Daniel Davis (R), 38, executive director, Northeast Florida Builders Association
District 13 — parts of Clay and Duval counties
Net Worth: $484,000
Notable: The former Jacksonville city councilman was handpicked to replace new Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll and has said he intends to "be a good soldier" and doesn't care if he's "blocking or carrying the ball."
Jose Felix Diaz (R), 31, attorney
District 115 — part of
Net Worth: (-$44,547)
Notable: Diaz was an unsuccessful contestant on NBC's "The Apprentice."
Reggie Fullwood (D), 35, president, Rhino Harbor Development
District 15 — part of Duval County
Net Worth: $359,500
Notable: Fullwood, the youngest city councilman in the history of Jacksonville, is president of Rhino Harbor Development, a multifamily housing development and consulting firm that focuses on affordable housing.
Matt Gaetz (R), 28, attorney
(elected in a special election April 13, 2010, re-elected subsequently)
District 4 — parts of Okaloosa and
Santa Rosa counties
Net Worth: $999,342
Notable: A one-time aide to former House Speaker Ray Sansom, Gaetz won the special election to fill the indicted lawmaker's seat in 2010. Gaetz's father is state Sen. Don Gaetz.
Tom Goodson (R), 60, owner, Goodson Paving and Seminole Curbs
District 29 — parts of Brevard and Indian River counties
Net Worth: $4,147,668
Notable: Goodson, a Cocoa businessman who served on the Canaveral Port Authority for eight years, says Florida should enact an Arizona-style immigration law.
James W. "J.W." Grant (R), 28, attorney
District 47 —?part of Hillsborough County
Net Worth: (-$5,780)
Notable: Grant is the son of former Florida Sen. John Grant and still works alongside his father at The Grant Law Group in Tampa.
Bill Hager (R), 64, attorney/reinsurance arbitrator
District 87 — part of Broward and Palm Beach counties
Net Worth: $6,557,000
Notable: Before moving to Florida in 1990 to run workers' comp and healthcare informatics company NCCI, Hager was Iowa's insurance commissioner. He is president of Insurance Metrics, which concentrates in insurance arbitration, reinsurance arbitration and expert witness services for insurance litigation.
Gayle Harrell* (R), 67, health information technology consultant
District 81 — parts of Martin and St. Lucie counties
Net Worth: $1,220,118
Notable: Harrell sat out a term because of term limits and made
an unsuccessful run for Congress in 2008, losing in the Republican primary by 1,006 votes.
Shawn Harrison (R), 46, attorney/founder of Medical Collection Group
District 60 — parts of Hillsborough and Pasco counties
Net Worth: $1,267,000
Notable: During his eight years on the Tampa City Council, Harrison led a drive to reduce property taxes. He vows to fight to keep taxes low by curbing unnecessary state spending.
Clay Ingram (R), 33,
District 2 — part of Escambia County
Net Worth: (-$17,900)
Notable: The former Florida State University football player was a four-year starter under coach Bobby Bowden and played in the 1999 national championship game. The Seminoles' long snapper cut his political teeth as chairman of the Young Professionals for Bush Coalition during the 2004 presidential race. He was chairman of the Escambia County Republican Executive Committee from 2005-08.
John Patrick Julien (D), 47, accountant
District 104 — part of Miami-Dade County
Net Worth: $125,000
Notable: Julien, who emigrated from Haiti to New York at age 7, was on the North Miami Beach City Council for three terms. Among his recreational interests: "Reading" and "sleeping."
Ana Rivas Logan (R), 49, educator
District 114 — part of Miami-Dade County
Net Worth: $177,912
Notable: Born in Nicaragua after her parents fled Cuba, Logan says her "strict upbringing" enabled her to attend college and live the American dream. She has a bachelor's and master's degree in computer science and engineering and has served two terms on the Miami-Dade School Board.
Larry Metz (R), 56, attorney
District 25 —?parts of Lake, Seminole and Volusia counties
Net Worth: $443,185
Notable: Metz, who served on the Lake County School Board, says policymakers need to practice fiscal restraint, even after the economy rebounds. He supports a "taxpayer protection amendment" that would prohibit state government revenue from growing faster than population growth and inflation.
George Moraitis (R), 40, attorney
District 91 — parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties
Net Worth: $474,000
Notable: A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Moraitis was a submarine officer for seven years and later attended law school at the University of Florida, where he graduated first in his class. Moraitis says improving education is a key to job creation and would like to increase the role of charter schools.
Jeanette Nunez (R), 38, healthcare executive
District 112 — parts of Broward, Collier and Miami-Dade counties
Net Worth: $326,000
Notable: Nunez previously served as chief of staff to state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla.
Kathleen Passidomo (R), 57, attorney
District 76 — part of Collier County
Net Worth: $3,547,000
Notable: Passidomo told the Naples News that one of her primary goals is to help foster a "good working relationship between Tallahassee and our local governments." The New Jersey native moved to Florida in 1976. She was a founding chairwoman of the Collier County Juvenile Justice Council and served as president of the Collier County Bar Association from 2007-08.
Steve Perman (D), 54, chiropractor
District 78 — parts of Martin, Okeechobee, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties
Net Worth: $625,000
Notable: The Queens, N.Y., native, who moved to Florida in 1993, calls himself "most involved chiropractic physician in the entire country when it comes to health-related legislation."
Keith Perry (R), 52,
roofing contractor/president, Perry Roofing
District 22 — parts of Alachua, Levy and Marion counties
Net Worth: $3,096,062
Notable: Perry skipped college to launch Perry Roofing Contractors, which today has three offices and more than 150 employees.
Raymond "Ray" Pilon (R), 66, communications director
District 69 — parts of Manatee and Sarasota counties
Net Worth: $440,515
Notable: Pilon's appointment to the Select Committee on Water Policy is a good match. The former Sarasota County commissioner has served as community and government affairs director for the Peace River Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority since 2001.
Elizabeth Porter (R), 46, partner in Professional Electronic Revenue Consulting
District 11 — Gilchrist, Lafayette, Suwannee and parts of Alachua, Columbia and Dixie counties
Net Worth: $35,100
Notable: A former member of the Columbia County Commission, Porter was formerly a territory manager for Carnation and Nestle Foods, an account manager for Schering-Plough and a district supervisor for Procter & Gamble.
Pat Rooney (R), 47, restaurant owner and president of the Palm Beach Kennel Club
District 83 — part of Palm Beach County
Net Worth: $418,000
Notable: Rooney, grandson of late Pittsburgh Steelers founder Art Rooney, says he had a good feeling about his 2010 legislative bid. "I kind of sensed this was going to be a Republican year and if I wanted to run, this was probably going to be the time to do it." Rooney's brother is U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney.
Irving "Irv" Slosberg* (D), 63, president, "Slosberg Report From Israel," a 30-minute news magazine
District 90 — parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties
Net Worth: $7,688,049
Notable: Slosberg returns to his old seat after taking a hiatus because of term limits. During his previous tenure in the Legislature, Slosberg was instrumental is passing laws requiring mandatory driver signals, mandatory minor seatbelts and harsher penalties for DUI offenders. His signature effort, a mandatory seatbelt law that allows police to stop cars in which front-seat passengers are not buckled in, passed in 2009. One of his top priorities this year is raising the driving age from 16 to 17.
Jimmie T. Smith (R), 45, retired U.S. Army paratrooper; security guard
District 43 — Citrus and parts of Hernando and Levy counties
Net Worth: $17,739
Notable: The Tea Party conservative works as a security guard at Progress Energy's nuclear power plant in Crystal River. He also authors a blog, everydayconservative.blogspot.com.
Cynthia Stafford (D), 43, attorney
District 109 — part of Miami-Dade County
Net Worth: $37,500
Notable: Stafford once worked for former U.S. Rep. Carrie Meek. Her top priorities are promoting public education, spurring economic development and improving the healthcare system.
Greg Steube (R), 32, attorney and Iraq war veteran
District 67 — parts of Hillsborough, Manatee and Sarasota counties
Net Worth: $30,000
Notable: Steube, who was in his first semester of law school at the University of Florida during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, enlisted in the Army as an infantryman (through the delayed entry program), was commissioned as an infantryman lieutenant following officer candidate school and later transferred to the Army AG Corps. From 2006 to 2007, he served as the chief of detainee operations for Multi-National Division North in Iraq.
Carlos Trujillo (R), 28, assistant state attorney for the 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida
District 116 ?— part of Miami-Dade County
Net Worth: $35,000
Notable: Trujillo describes himself as a "fiscally conservative, socially moderate Republican and a firm believer in the importance of family values, small government and low taxes."
Dana Young (R), 46, attorney
District 57 — part of Hillsborough County
Net Worth: $667,408
Notable: Young's grandfather, Randolph Hodges, served in the Florida Senate from 1953 to 1963, and her uncle, Gene Hodges, served in the Florida House from 1972 to 1988.
* Previously served in the Legislature.