Ben Albritton, FRSCC have Tom Leek’s back in SD 7 contest
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 3/8/24-House Appropriations Chair Rep. Tom Leek, R-Ormond Beach, listens to a question just before the House approved the budget, Friday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

Senate Republicans' political arm has started making favorites known in open seats around the state.

The Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee (FRSCC) is officially supporting Senate candidate Tom Leek.

Florida Senate President-designate Ben Albritton, a Wauchula Republican, announced that the political arm for Senate Republicans wants Leek as the GOP nominee in Senate District 7.

“Tom Leek has stood with our men and women in blue to make Florida the most pro-law enforcement state in the nation,” Albritton said.

“He’s worked to empower our first responders and emergency managers, and fought against vaccine passports and unconstitutional mandates. I am proud to endorse Tom Leek for Florida Senate because I know that Tom will deliver on the access to opportunity that all Floridians deserve.”

The FRSCC has remained relatively quiet this election cycle until the past week, when it announced support for Keith Truenow in Senate District 13, Randy Fine in Senate District 19 and now Leek in SD 7. All are open seats this year, with incumbents retiring due to term limits.

Like Truenow and Fine, Leek currently serves in the House. The Ormond Beach Republican this year serves as House Appropriations Committee Chair, a key member of Speaker Paul Renner’s leadership team.

He’s also engaged in a Republican Primary against an anti-establishment candidate. Leek faces Republican Gerry James, a former professional wrestler, in a GOP Primary on Aug. 20.

Leek has recently been the target of a television and mail campaign, funded by the trial lawyer-tied The Truth Matters political committee, attacking his voting record and painting him as weak on crime.

Albritton’s endorsement seems to respond to that to a degree, stressing Leek’s law enforcement support. That includes backing from every Sheriff serving part of the district.

Leek is running to succeed Sen. Travis Hutson, who in 2022 fended off a GOP Primary challenge from James himself with 56% of the vote.

The FRSCC endorsement shows support for Leek over James, but also signals that Albritton is ready to take sides even before a June 14 qualifying deadline locks the GOP Primary field in place. In the wake of the well-funded attack campaign on Leek, speculation has grown in the district about whether another candidate could emerge in the next few weeks.

The Republican Primary on Aug. 20 will most likely be the critical race determining the district’s next Senator. Some 62% of voters in the district in 2020 supported Donald Trump for President. More than 69% of voters there backed Gov. Ron DeSantis’ re-election in 2022.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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