Jeffrey Paul Brandes, a true Florida native, was born and raised in St Petersburg and attended Northside Christian School, where his mother served her entire career as an educator; first as a teacher, then as principal, and finally as headmaster. During his high school summers, Jeff learned the value of hard work and integrity while working in the lumber yard of his family’s business, Cox Lumber Co.
Like his father and grandfathers before him, Jeff had a deep-rooted desire to serve his country. He joined the United States Army shortly after graduating high school. After graduating from Marion Military Institute in Marion, Alabama, he attended Florida Southern College and subsequently Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tennessee, where he graduated in 1999 with a degree in Business Administration.
Following his college graduation, Jeff moved to Grand Cayman where he served in the hospitality industry working for the Marriott Corporation and met his wife, Natalie. After September 11, 2001 Jeff returned to Florida, where he joined a local U.S. Army Reserve unit, and began pursuing his interest in real estate.
In February of 2003 Jeff was called to active duty and sent to Iraq to fight in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division and as a First Lieutenant served honorably, leading over 75 convoys throughout various regions of Iraq during his fourteen months of deployment.
After returning from Iraq, Jeff joined Cox Lumber Co. as part of its real estate development team. After the company was sold to HD Supply in 2006, Jeff obtained his real estate brokers license and Certified Property Manager designation, taking over the responsibility of managing the family’s real estate portfolio.
Frustrated by the status quo’s lack of leadership, Jeff ran for the Florida House of Representatives in 2010 and defeated a two-term incumbent in one of the state’s most competitive districts.
In 2012 Jeff successfully ran for the Florida Senate and was re-elected in 2014, 2016 and 2018.
In his short time in the Legislature, Jeff has made a name for himself as a pragmatic leader that embraces innovative technology and brings creative solutions to the problems facing Tampa Bay. With a particular interest in transportation, Jeff sponsored the bill bringing Google’s autonomous vehicle technology to Florida, where it is currently being tested. When the Federal government’s failure to act on Flood Insurance created a crisis for homeowners, Jeff sponsored legislation creating a private, Florida-based marketplace that offered lower rates. Citing an invasion of privacy and lack of safety improvements, Jeff has been a leader in the effort to do away with red light cameras.
Jeff and Natalie have been married since 2006, and have 4 children, Lottie, Colin, Conor, and Lizzie.