Los Angeles Times

7 - Bill Nelson

Five years ago, Florida's Democratic U.S. senator wasn't even on this list. But then he moved to Orlando — and, more importantly, saw his party take control of Congress. Now Nelson, 66, is a gatekeeper for most anything Florida wants or needs from Washington. And, as a bit of trivia, Nelson first introduced Central Florida to Barack Obama at a fundraiser back in 2005, where Nelson described his new peer as the Senate's “rising star.”JOHN RAOUX, Associated Press