State Sen. Tom Lee confirmed he is under consideration for Florida lieutenant governor by Gov. Rick Scott’s office, as well as being on the ticket as Scott’s running mate in 2014.
The Brandon Republican tells William March of the Tampa Tribune that if offered the job, he is not sure he will take it for several professional and personal reasons.
But he also gives one excellent reason why he should.
“I do consider it a great honor,” Lee said, “and I do admire the governor and what he’s accomplished politically in our state.”
Four things (on a very full plate) are what would keep Lee from taking the LG role. First, Lee runs his family’s homebuilding business, Sabal Homes. Second, Scott recently appointed Lee’s wife to be a judge on the Hillsborough County Circuit Court. Third, in becoming LG, Lee would also give up an opportunity for another term as Senate president.
Finally, the Lee’s have a 15-month-old baby. Being Florida’s LG would mean a separation from his family.
“If you want to be a full partner to the governor,” he said, “you have to be present and available.”
However, there is the opportunity to support the governor, especially through one of the most pivotal elections nationwide in 2014, where the winner could affect Florida’s contribution to the 2016 presidential race. Statewide exposure could also be an advantage for future political ambitions.
Lee has substantial state-level experience, serving the Senate from 1996-2006 and as Senate president the last two of those years. After losing the race for Florida CFO in 2006, Lee returned to the Senate in 2012. His legislative skills could prove beneficial to Scott in his re-election bid.
The Senate presidency is “just another unknown,” Lee told the Tribune. “Those options are way out in the future – who knows what circumstances are going to unfold.”
As for the lieutenant governor’s position, it “is the decision of the governor and his chief of staff.”
Others on the LG short list are Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman and St. Johns County school superintendent Joseph Joyner.
Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger is also under consideration for LG, according to a source close to the governor’s office, but Lee is considered the top candidate on the list.