The 53-year-old Brandon-based homebuilder moves up one notch from his 2014 ranking, in part because of his status as chair of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee for the next two legislative sessions.
Tom Lee initially served in the Senate from 1996-2006, serving as Senate president for those last two years before an unsuccessful run for chief financial officer against Alex Sink in 2006.
He returned to Tallahassee in the Senate in 2012, and in 2014 worked double duty on the political front.
To focus on representing his constituents in SD 22, Lee relinquished his control of the Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee in December, but not before he was able to boast about the county’s performance in last November’s election.
That included Rick Scott gathering 20,000 more votes than in 2010, Pam Bondi getting 15,000 more and Jeff Atwater and Adam Putnam getting 33,000 additional votes each (not that the Democratic competition was particularly fierce).
“Tom Lee has proved his value in the Florida Senate,” says Hillsborough GOP political consultant Mark Proctor. “As Senate president, he was able to lead many diverse viewpoints into a consensus of opinion. His accomplishments have been valuable in Tallahassee as well as his home base in Brandon. He has made politics look easy in the way he approaches each challenge he faces.”
For a complete explanation of how this list was created and who comprised the panel that assembled it, please read here.