The Orlando Sentinel recently published its 25 most powerful in Orlando list with some newcomers and old standbys.
1. Buddy Dyer – As mayor of Orlando during the real estate boom, he’s credited with the changing skyline of Orlando.
2. Rich Crotty – Replaced Buddy Dyer as mayor and currently dealing with corruption from the expressway authority and economic woes.
3. John Hitt – As president of the University of Central Florida, he’s credited with the growth of a mini economy around the university area.
4. John Mica – Republican House member from Winter Park and one of the biggest supporters of commuter rail
5. Dean Cannon – Repulican House member
6. Meg Crofton – She’s president of the largest single employer in town as president of Walt Disney World.
7. Bill Nelson – Florida’s Democratic Senator
8. Jim Pugh – Understated developer responsible for the Orlando Performing Art Center
12. John Morgan – Attorney with a direct pipeline to powerful Democrats, Howard Dean and Barach Obama
13. Al Weiss – President of Walt Disney World’s parks and resorts division
15. Andy Gardiner – Republican senator from Orlando
17. Harris Rosen – He’s one of my favorites as an understated multi-millionaire that speaks out for philantropy.
19. Mel Martinez – Republican senator
20. Corrine Brown – Central Florida Congresswoman
22. Bob Mandell – He’s one of the few guys I’ve actually met on this list. He’s a developer who spearheaded Greater Homes and Construction which was bought by Meritage Homes. By the way, he’s got some great seats for the Magic games. He was the earliest and biggest local backers of Barack Obama.
23. Val Demmings – Chief of the Orlando Police Department. Her husband was also recently elected as head of the Orange County Sherrif’s Office. I’d be careful not violate any laws around these guys.
24. Jeff Fuqua – He hands out multi million dollar contracts as head of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority.
25. Ron Blocker – Orange County schools leader