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Tom Lee is now backing Marco Rubio for president

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Brandon state Senator Tom Lee, who was conspicuously missing on a list of Florida state senators who were backing Jeb Bush’s presidential aspirations released last fall, announced on Monday he is foursquare behind Marco Rubio in his battle for the GOP nomination for president.“Beyond being a good friend, Marco Rubio is a committed conservative leader with a unrivaled record of accomplishment in Florida and Washington,” said Lee in a statement. “I know Marco’s record first-hand; as House Speaker, he led the fight to reduce taxes and regulations and to make Florida’s government smaller and more accountable to the people. He stood firm for conservative principles, no matter how tough the fights.”

“After seven years of Obama, we need a candidate for President who’s a leader with new ideas and a true commitment to reform Washington, protect our security, and revive our economy,” added Lee. “Marco is the future of the GOP, and his optimistic conservative message will help inspire a new generation, grow the party and help ensure we win the White House.”

Lee endorsed Rubio over Charlie Crist in his bid for U.S. Senate in 2010, but had been unaffiliated going into the 2016 presidential cycle.

In a display of hegemony regarding the  “Jeb vs. Marco” battle in Florida last fall, the Bush campaign released a list of 20 of the 26 GOP state senators in the Florida Legislature  who backed his candidacy for president. Lee was one of the six not on the list (the others included Alan Hays of Umatilla, Travis Hutson of Palm Coast, Rene Garcia of Hialeah, Miguel Diaz de la Portilla of Miami, and Charlie Dean of Inverness).

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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