Senator Tom Lee officially announces candidacy for Hillsborough GOP chair

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The worst kept secret in Hillsborough County politics is now public: State Senator Tom Lee is running for Chair of the Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee. Lee, recently named Deputy Majority Leader in the Florida Senate, announced his candidacy via email on Tuesday night.

Lee said he’ll devote the necessary time, and that the local party needs his experience and fundraising ability.

“The party needs some leadership right now to unite factions with the common goal of getting Republicans elected, and needs to elevate its political sophistication,” he said to the Tampa Tribune‘s William March.

Lee said several local Republicans asked him to take the job as a way to unify the party. “I encouraged them to try to find someone else, but failing that, I agreed to do it,” he said.

Some Republicans hope Lee’s stature as a prominent elected official will help bring the party together.

“It will change the face of the party,” said GOP consultant April Schiff. “They need to raise their stature to another level in fundraising and credibility, and having him as chairman would be a step in that direction.”

Lee’s email is below:

Thank you for your active participation and involvement in the Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee.  As the elected representative of the Republican Party in your precinct, I am deeply grateful for your willingness to serve our community in elected office.

I am writing to you today to announce my candidacy for Chairman of the Republican Party of Hillsborough County.

As the Hillsborough County Republican Party’s elected representative in your precinct, your strong participation and unwavering support is vital for Republicans to successfully win elections in Hillsborough County.  By virtue of your elected position, you are also responsible to cast your vote to determine who will be the next Chairman of our Hillsborough County Republican Party.

I have been honored and privileged to serve alongside you in the past and continue that service now, as State Senator representing Florida Senate District 24.  Over the years, I have waged several campaigns for elected office and have been met with success.  Key to this success has been our campaign’s engagement of the community, coordination and activation of the grassroots and an ability to raise the funds necessary to successfully carry our campaign message to voters.

I am grateful for the past leaders of the Hillsborough County Republican Party.  Margie Kincaid served as chair of our local party for many years, when Republicans were in the minority party in Florida and when Republican candidates in Hillsborough County were few and far between.  Commissioner Al Higginbotham took that foundation and built upon it, growing our local party into one of the largest and most active in our state and establishing a strong financial position for our local party.  David Storck took the helm and through his commitment to grassroots engagement helped our party continue to win.  Debbie Cox-Roush, whose tireless commitment to the local party is evident to all, helped propel our party to fundraising success.  Art Wood took that foundation and again built upon it, enjoying strong fundraising success and helping candidates more financially than at any time in the past.

But, despite our past successes, on Election Day we faced a Democratic Party whose engagement at the grassroots level was far better organized and implemented than in the past.  Our efforts, although significant, were not as precise as they could have been.  As a result, our local Republican Party was not as successful on Election Day as we have been in the past.

We can try our past approaches and hope they will help us reach farther than before.  Or, we can honor the leaders of our past, take the strong foundation we’ve built together and realize our local Republican Party’s full potential.

So now, it is up to you to determine who will best lead our local Republican Party for the next two years.

If I am privileged to be elected as your Chairman, you have my commitment to:

  • Tirelessly work to advance our local Republican Party
  • Implement a strategy to build and grow our local Republican Party
  • Recruit and equip strong and well prepared Republican candidates, who know what to do and how to do it so they can win their election
  • Raise the funds necessary to successfully convey our message to voters throughout Hillsborough County
  • Lead our local Republican Party’s campaign efforts to bring about success for Republicans on Election Day

I welcome the opportunity to speak with you about my candidacy for Hillsborough County Republican Party Chairman and want to hear your thoughts, concerns and ideas about how our party can flourish.  Please don’t hesitate to give me a call on my cell at (813) 230-4676 or email me at [email protected].

I believe the Hillsborough County Republican Party’s best days are still ahead.  I believe that your commitment and support combined with a successful campaign strategy, can result in great success for our local Republican Party on Election Day 2014.

If you believe as I do, I ask for your support and for your vote on December 11th at the Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee meeting.

I look forward to speaking with you, soon!

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.