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Another Miamian is ascending to lead Florida House. Daniel Perez values family, hard work

Mary Ellen Klas and Ana Ceballos, Miami Herald on

Published in News & Features

“Danny’s strong suit is his ability to forge deep interpersonal relationships with other members of the Legislature,’’ said Nick Iarossi, a Tallahassee lobbyist and one of his earliest supporters.

Iarossi was among several lobbyists and legislators who gathered in Napa Valley earlier this month for a fundraising weekend for the House 2024 reelection effort, which Perez will lead. Also in attendance was Lieutenant Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, who is also from Miami.

Rather than remain seated during one elegant dinner, Perez worked the room, “like a restaurateur,” Iarossi recalled.

“He is always walking around, talking to everybody in the room, making them feel welcome, asking them how things are going in their life, and being attentive,’’ he said. “Building relationships is his superpower.”

Lopez, the Miami lawmaker, spent a career as an advocate and lobbyist before being elected to the state House. She now represents a moderate district and has taken several votes that went against the Republican caucus position on immigration, abortion, guns and unions.

She said that Perez’s willingness to not only listen to her but support her even when he disagreed “was remarkable.”

“I would talk to him a lot about those votes prior to taking them and he was always like, ‘Listen, Vicki, you have to be a true representative of your district.’ ” she said.. “Which is so unusual if you know former speakers. He never makes me feel like somehow I’m on the out….And he had a better understanding of my district than anyone else.”

Trujillo predicted Perez will “be transparent” about the positions he takes, be willing to defend them, and “not run from the media interview.”

McClure agreed that Perez’s style will be one that is “open to a member-driven process.”

“He understands that no matter what the legislation is, if we don’t have the debate, if we don’t have the dialogue in it, we’re not earnest in those conversations as a legislature, you’re not going to get a great product,” he said.

Perez urges colleagues to do their homework

In his speech to his House colleagues, Perez urged them to spend “less time in the social scenes of Tallahassee and more time doing your homework. It means being a person who has hard questions, really listening to their answers and being willing to challenge your own assumptions.”

“Members. If you want to have a voice You must have something unique to say,’’ he said.

Iarossi said he thinks Perez will apply his relationship skills if he or his caucus disagree with the governor.

“I don’t think Danny’s coming in with any type of chip on his shoulder about anything that’s occurred up until this point,’’ he said. And when it’s time to take a different approach than one advanced by DeSantis or the Senate, Iarossi said Perez will “work through those issues in a collaborative way and avoid these public fights, because that’s his style.”


A lawyer by trade, Perez has shown to be a good fundraiser — having raised more than $9.5 million since 2017. His campaign finance reports show a mix of contributions from trial lawyers, who played a significant role in helping him win the speaker’s race, and traditional large donors like Publix, Duke Energy and the Seminole Tribe, who generally give large sums to those marked for leadership positions in the Legislature.

Perez graduated from Florida State University in 2009 and received his law degree from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law in 2012.

Since he was first elected, Perez has filed several bills to financially support the WOW Center, a nonprofit organization in his district that teaches job skills to adults with developmental disabilities, and has used the state budget process to direct hundreds of thousands in funds to the center as well. Alexander Díaz-Cruz, a client of the WOW Center, sang the national anthem at the designation ceremony.

As a memento of the ceremony, House members were given framed handwritten letters from someone who was part of Brigade 2506, the Cuban-exile group that attempted to overthrow Fidel Castro in the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion in 1960.

Condo safety a legislative priority

In 2022, Perez was the House’s lead negotiator in passing legislation designed to strengthen condo safety after the devastating collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside. Lopez led the House’s effort in revising the law last session, and expects to take the lead on more changes this year.

Ron Book, a veteran lobbyist who represents many Miami clients, said he expects Perez to try to have an impact on healthcare, affordable housing and transportation, especially in areas “where we have those local demands and needs.”

Miami state Sen. Ileana Garcia, a Republican, said she has already spoken to Perez about engaging the Legislature to make statutory changes that will offer protections to residents of homeowners associations and increase access to association financial records.

Rodriguez, the state senator from Miami, is hopeful that Perez’s tenure will mean good news for Miami-Dade County.

“It’s always good to have a presiding office from your hometown,” said Rodriguez, noting how historically, a presiding officer is usually able to champion causes for their home turf.

Florida House rules allow each party’s caucus to designate a member to be House speaker as early as six years in advance of assuming the job. The wind up gives incoming leaders time to prepare for the two-year sprint that is their final term because of the state’s eight-year term-limit rule.

Because Perez was first elected to office in a special election in June 2017, he had an extra six months in the race for the speaker of the 2024-26 term. In August 2020, he defeated Rep. Will Robinson, R-Bradenton, to lead the caucus and has chosen several members of the 2017 class to be members of his leadership team. He will succeed Rep. Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast.

In addition to McClure, others members of Perez’ leadership team include Rep. Josie Tomkow, R-Plant City, and Rep. John Snyder, R-Hobe Sound.

Perez has disclosed a net worth of $2.3 million, much of it from his stake in a South Florida healthcare network — UNNO Healthcare and UNNO Medical Centers. A $150,000 investment to the network in 2018 boosted his net worth from $420,000 that year to $2.3 million by the end of 2022, records show.

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