As Lake Worth Sen. Jeff Clemens taught us once again last week by announcing his bid for Senate Democratic leader in 2018, there’s no such thing as ‘too soon’ in the term-limited game theory of the Florida Legislature.
In that spirit, Republican state Sen. Tom Lee has filed to run for his Hillsborough County-based District 24 seat for a second and final consecutive term more than three years out from the November 2018 midterms, according to the Florida Division of Elections.
Lee currently chairs the powerful Appropriations Committee, where a projected budget surplus is sure to create a feeding frenzy within the generally cheeseparing GOP-led legislature. So far this year Lee has introduced bills allowing not-for-profits to assume power of attorney of their charges in some cases, reforming the court-mandated family law mediation process and expanding property tax relief for military veterans.
The former Senate President — while constantly a leading character in tales of intra-chamber intrigue — is undoubtedly a legislative heavyweight who brings a deliberative style to debate in the chamber, as well as a attendant boatload of campaign contributions.
So far Lee is the only candidate in the race for his Brandon Senate seat and given his imposing electoral stature, he likely will be for some time.
While known as a Realtor primarily interested in business and development issues, Lee was the original father of Florida’s “Choose Life” license plate, vetoed by Gov. Lawton Chiles in 1998 but approved by Gov. Jeb Bush the following Session.