A wealth of high-level administration experience gives State Sen. Tom Lee the edge as he holds steady in the Top 10 of the 2014 SaintPetersBlog list of Tampa Bay’s Most Powerful Politicians.
Coming in at #7, Lee is the blunt-talking former Senate President, current Deputy Majority Leader and Vice-President of leading Tampa Bay homebuilder Sabal Homes. The Brandon Republican was recently considered a prime candidate for Lieutenant Governor. Lee’s LG appeal is obvious, since he would have brought an electoral foothold in the home turf of Charlie Crist, Gov. Rick Scott’s most likely Democratic opponent in November.
Staying in Tallahassee works to Lee’s advantage, not only giving him a shot at a second run as Senate President, but he would also be available for his family — wife Laurel Moore Lee, appointed a Hillsborough County circuit judge last May by Scott and the couple’s 18-month-old child.
A future as Senate President would give him key veto power, a valuable ability to regulate the state’s legislation.
Lee, 52, currently chairs the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, and also sits on Appropriations, Ethics and Elections, Gaming, Transportation and Banking & Insurance — a strong legislative summary for the Tampa Bay area.
After leaving the Senate the first time in 2006, Lee build a reputation for standing up to powerful interests—especially lobbyists—and it was the same reputation that helped him return in 2012.
“I didn’t go to Tallahassee to make friends,” he once told the Tampa Bay Times, “and don’t expect to leave with any.”
But make friends he did. Lee received accolades from a broad range of organizations, from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Florida League of Cities to being recognized as Legislator of the Year from the Sierra Club of Florida. Lee also serves on the boards of A Kid’s Place and the Tampa Bay History Center.
“Through my experiences with Tom Lee over the past ten plus years,” says RSA Consulting Group President Ron Pierce, “I have found that he is a leader that believes that principles and reputation are much more important than the position that he holds.
“This principle coupled with his past experience as Senate President and his command of subject matter on a verity of complex public policy issues is why he is such an effective leader in Tallahassee.”
For a complete explanation of how this list was created and who comprised the panel that assembled it, please read here.