The 55-year-old Republican flirted with ditching Tallahassee for the Hillsborough County Commission last year after redistricting eliminated his Senate District 16 seat.
Instead, he ran for the newly drawn and uncontested District 20 seat.
Lee has an extensive amount of experience in the Legislature, having initially served in the Senate from 1996-2006, before losing to Alex Sink in the race for chief financial officer.
He returned to the Senate in 2012. In the most recent session, he chaired the Community Affairs Committee, and in March, he was named to the powerful Constitution Revision Commission.
“Tom Lee serves his constituents well and is very well liked by the business community,” says Republican consultant April Schiff. “He’s a moderate Republican who is a strong fiscal conservative supportive of tax cuts and takes the lead moving projects and public policy forward, especially on ethics reform, health care and business issues.”
Lee did not have the most stellar legislative session this past spring, it must be noted. He alienated some of his fellow Republican colleagues by publicly referring to allegations of “corruption” involving the spending of the master plan at Tampa International Airport, and his amendment (with Jeff Brandes) on the TBARTA bill was also frowned upon by the Tampa business/political establishment – not that they would ever go on the record as saying so.
In the 2016 poll, Lee was tied for No. 6 (with Wilton Simpson).
Joe Henderson’s Take
“He fell four spots from last year’s ranking but still ranks in the top 10, and that’s appropriate. Here is another guy who will tell you exactly what he believes and isn’t afraid to get his nose bloody in the process (like when he questioned spending at Tampa International Airport). He didn’t have overwhelming success in this year’s Legislative Session, but I wouldn’t count him out for next year and beyond. He is a survivor.”
For a complete explanation of how this list was created and who made up the panel that amassed it, please read here.