Tom Lee says he's looking forward to leadership change in Senate - Florida Politics

Tom Lee says he’s looking forward to leadership change in Senate

Tom Lee is psyching himself up for another term in the Florida Senate.

“I was pretty much resolved to step away for a little while, and get on with some business and try to help my son get through high school,” the Thonotosassa Republican (and Senate President in 2004-06) said last week.

After considering runs for Chief Financial Officer and for Congress, and even leaving politics altogether, he decided last month to seek re-election.

He faces John Manners Houman in this month’s Senate District 20 primary. Joy Gibson and Kathy Lewis are vying to be the Democratic nominee.

Lee, who has served a combined 16 years in the chamber, clashed regularly with leadership under President Joe Negron of Stuart, but expects better days when Bradenton Republican Bill Galvano wields the gavel, as expected next year.

“My sense is there are going to be a lot of changes in the Senate, and it’s going to be a more rewarding place in which to serve in the coming years,” Lee said.

Then there’s the good of the party to think about.

“It’s much easier to recruit for the other party if you’re not running against an incumbent — depending on the incumbent, I guess,” he said.

“In this case, I think it would have been much easier for the Democrats to recruit candidates. And there’s no question about it — there would have been a Republican primary, and that would have cost a substantial amount of resources.

“Resources are finite. If those resources could be saved and utilized in other races where we have thin margins for error, it can help people sleep a little better at night.”

Michael Moline is a former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal and managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal. Previously, he reported on politics and the courts in Tallahassee for United Press International. He is a graduate of Florida State University, where he served as editor of the Florida Flambeau. His family’s roots in Jackson County date back many generations.
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