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Politics

What You Didn’t Know about Rep. Gus Bilirakis

HOLIDAY, FL – Of all the members of the United States Congress, who is the most second-most active of them all in terms of proposing legislation? Gus Bilirakis.
“This is what another Congressman (in the know) told Gus,” Bilirakis’ Chief of Staff Elizabeth Hittos told TNH. “He didn’t say who’s number one,” but out of the entire Congress, Bilirakis is number two.

Hittos told a packed house at the grand opening of Bilirakis’ reelection campaign headquarters on July 30 in Holiday, part of the congressman’s Western Florida district that also includes Tarpon Springs, the city with more Greek-Americans per capita than any other in the United States, that the reason hardly anyone knows about this amazing statistic regarding what a prolific legislator Bilirakis is, “is because he is so humble.”

And those are not just words; I experienced it firsthand. I had never met Rep. Bilirakis face to face until that day, though we had spoken on the phone a few times. “I’m Dino Scaros,” I said, to which he immediately recognized my name, put his hand on my shoulder, and said “signomi – I’m sorry.” He was apologizing, unnecessarily, for not having gotten back to me regarding a proposed interview. “It’s fine,” I answered. “I know how busy you must be.” But he insisted: “no, signomi.”
That he instantly recognized my name without my having to make an association to this newspaper, and recalled that he had meant to get in touch with me corroborates what a good and humble man he is, as relayed to me by Hittos, Tarpon Mayor Chris Alahouzos, and many others in the community.”

NO NEPOTISM HERE

In reading Bilirakis’ biography, one quickly discovers that he was elected to Congress in 2006, taking over the seat that his father, Mike, had held since he was first elected in 1982. “Typical nepotism,” one might think. “He just inherited his father’s seat.” But as we all learned thanks to Hittos, nothing could be further from the truth.
The younger Bilirakis was addicted to politics from a very young age, Hittos said. “Since age 7.” And while other nine-year-olds were playing, he was busy watching the 1972 national conventions.

“It was Gus who from a young age pushed his father (a successful attorney at the time) to enter politics.” The elder Bilirakis resisted, but his son continued to prod him, as did others. “Eventually, I decided to run,” said Mike Bilirakis, who also spoke at the event.”

But once Gus decided to run, didn’t he win because of Mike’s help? Not at all, Hittos told TNH. When the elder Bilirakis decided to retire, his son was motivated to take his place. But the father was against it, out of love for his son. Gus was married with young children, and his father advised “this is no life for a man with a young family.” Of course, he supports his son, but he didn’t take an active role in helping him get elected. According to Hittos’ account, then, rather than the father having made the son’s political career, it was the other way around.

UNITY AND GOD
Gus Bilirakis spoke to the group, encouraging Republican unity in November. When he uttered Donald Trump’s name, a couple of people groaned, and the congressman advised: “Now, now, we agree with him 90 percent of the time, right? So we need to stand behind him.” As for his own reelection, Bilirakis is strongly favored to win reelection, but is campaigning hard. “I’m not taking anything for granted,” he said.

His father, also a humble man not craving the limelight, spoke only after his son coaxed him into doing so. Mostly, he relayed the virtues of Republicanism, explaining how unlike the Democrats, they don’t give things, but rather help people help themselves.”
He spoke about the American Revolution and explained how it was that a disorganized, poorly-trained, poorly-armed bunch of colonists were able to defeat the British, who had the most powerful military in the world. “It was God who did it,” he said. “He wanted a nation such as ours” to be the beacon of hope and compass for the world.

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