A tearful, fed-up Larry Lee decides to leave House - Florida Politics

A tearful, fed-up Larry Lee decides to leave House

Despite being able to run for a final two years in the House, Rep. Larry Lee Jr. announced Wednesday he is pulling the plug on politics.

“You get to this point in your life when you say, ‘why do I have to stand up and take all of these acts?’ Because when you continue to lay down, people will continue to step on you,” Lee, a Port St. Lucie Democrat, told Florida Politics.

Disheartened by the way things get done in the Legislature, Lee made the announcement to House Democrats during a caucus meeting. He said he is leaving to do work outside of the process, like helping the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivors, he said.

“Change won’t come from the inside,” he told fellow Democrats earlier Wednesday.

Lee has served in the Legislature since 2012 and said he’s learned to work across the aisle. People in his district have encouraged him to run for re-election three times because they tell him both sides in the political spectrum listen to him.

But as Democrats and Republicans clash in the House over a contentious bill in response to the Douglas High tragedy, the former teacher and coach said he would encourage young activists to run as independents.

The measure up for a vote includes provisions to arm school staff, raises the legal age to buy assault rifles from 18 to 21, and boosts funding for mental health services in schools.

It has a mix of bipartisan opposition with hardline Republicans opposing the gun restrictions and Democrats saying that it does not go far enough without an assault rifle ban. Democrats for the most part oppose arming school staff.

Lee said he met on Monday with House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican, to tell him about his decision to depart after this term.

In his office, Corcoran pulled out a Bible, read a verse to Lee and asked him to think about it for one more day.

But after a marathon discussion on the school safety bill (SB 7026) that Democrats failed to amend, Lee’s decision was made.

“It’s time to leave,” he said in tears. “My heart is very heavy.”

Ana covers politics and policy for Florida Politics. Before joining Florida Politics, she was the legislative relief reporter for The Associated Press and covered policy issues impacting immigration, the environment, criminal justice and social welfare in Florida. She holds a B.A. in journalism from San Diego State University. After graduating in 2014, she worked as a criminal justice reporter for the Monterey Herald and the Monterey County Weekly. She has also freelanced for The Washington Post at the U.S.-Mexico border covering crime in the border city of Tijuana, where she grew up. Ana is fluent in Spanish and has intermediate proficiency in Portuguese.

10 Comments

  1. Corcoran pulling out the Bible is the biggest hypocrisy yet. He is one of the biggest liars and it’s pathological. I don’t blame Lee for leaving. He found out what I found out, and since he is in the minority party, I certainly understand his decision. Get out of that filthy cell pool of lying sellout elected people. They are not public servants by any means.

    1. Wait a second. A Republican pulling out a bible and asking a Democrat to reconsider before leaving??? What is wrong with that? Why bash Corcoran?

      Rep Lee is a good and honorable man. In spite of the differences in their political parties, Corcoran can see that Lee brings great value to the legislature. I wish we had more examples of Republicans and Democrats valuing and respecting each other, instead of the drama and vitriol we see in politics today. It’s an absolute shame that we will lose Larry Lee, but politics is a crappy business, capable of destroying good people, and keeping other good people away.

  2. Larry, you did your best, will be praying for you. Thanks for all you have done. god bless you🙏🏽🙏🏽

  3. We will miss you – you had the courage to vote against those in the pockets of the short-term rental industry and vote for counties to be able to make rules that best reflect the community. Hopefully, with all the residents and voters who were unhappy with La Rosa, Steube, and their ilk, there will be better days ahead when the politicians who do not represent their constituents are voted out.

  4. Thank you for your service Representative Lee! I am disappointed you have decided not to run again! I know it is a sacrifice and we cannot ask you to sacrifice more! Thank you!

  5. Representative Larry Lee. I commend you for a job well done representing our district. God Bless You. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do, even if you’ve done your best. Only God knows. Job well done. You will survive to bigger and better things. You have the potential. I see it in you. God bless.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons