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Rising GOP Star Danny Burgess Runs for Pasco County House Seat

December 2, 2013 - 6:00pm

Mayor Danny Burgess of Zephyrhills announced Tuesday that he is running as a Republican for the Florida House of Representatives seat which covers most of Pasco County.

The seat, which is currently held by House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, will become vacant next year due to term limits. Weatherford faced no opposition in the 2012 general election.

"After careful consideration and strong encouragement from friends and family I have decided to run for the Florida House," said Burgess on Tuesday. "I'm excited by the opportunity to continue serving the community I grew up in and am proud to call home, as a member of the Florida House."

Burgess currently serves as mayor of Zephyrhills. He is also a first lieutenant in the United States Army as a judge advocate general, and is a practicing attorney at Johnson, Auvil, Pratico & Chane PA.

When he was elected in 2013, Burgess became the youngest mayor in Zephyrhills' history, at 27. He was elected to the Zephyrhills City Council when he was only 18.

Prominent Republicans show signs of backing Burgess. On Tuesday, Sen. John Legg, R-Port Richey, took to Twitter to praise the new candidate as a great leader.

Burgess does not have an open shot at the Republican nomination. Community activist and chaplain Minerva Diaz entered the race over the summer and has continued her campaign. A veteran of the Air Force and a community activist, Diaz currently is an adjunct professor at Pasco Hernando Community College where she teaches religion classes, and a chaplain in the Tampa Division of Florida Hospital and with the Pasco County sheriff's office.

But Diaz has not impressed in terms of fundraising, bringing in only $25 during all of October. As of Oct. 31, she has brought in $1,960 in donations, loaned her campaign $300, relied on $985 through in-kind donations and spent around $625.

Diaz has pledged to fight for economic development, including strengthening the middle class, in Tallahassee. Diaz also plans, if elected, to focus on aiding law enforcement and assisting the mentally ill.

Telecommunications expert Christopher Scott Erwin had entered the race for the Republican nomination but he ended his campaign earlier this year.

On the Democratic side, Beverly Anne Ledbetter, a retired schoolteacher from Dade City who is currently with St. Leo University, is the sole candidate running for her partys nomination. Ledbetter, whose husband was on the County Commission more than three decades ago, is the president of the East Pasco Democratic Club.

Reach Kevin Derby at Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at or follow her on Twitter at @AllisonNielsen.

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