It’s a king thing: Senate presidents-in-waiting like predecessor Tom Lee in District 24 raceby Dara Kam | June 1st, 2012
Senate President-designate Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, and Senate Majority Leader Andy Gardiner, an Orlando Republican in the running to be his successor, are backing former Senate President Tom Lee in a GOP primary to replace Sen. Ronda Storms.
Lee, R-Brandon, served as Senate president in 2005-2006 and prompted the much-hated gift ban that bars lawmakers from accepting gifts, including food and drinks, from lobbyists.
Gaetz issued a “statement of support” for Lee, who’s facing off against state Rep. Rachel Burgin, R-Riverview, in the primary. Storms announced last week she was walking away from her last two years in the Senate would instead run against the GOP incumbent Hillsborough County property appraiser.
The endorsements of Gaetz and Gardiner could boost Lee’s conservative creds in a race against Burgin, another conservative who sponsored some extreme anti-abortion legislation over the past two years. And the backing of the incoming Senate president could give Lee a campaign cash boost as well.
Gardiner’s statement emphasized Lee’s right-leaning history in the chamber.
“During his Senate Presidency, Tom brought to the floor and sent to Governor Bush legislation to permanently repeal the intangibles tax, a tax that punished seniors and savers who sought a better quality of life in Florida. In over ten years in the Senate, Tom personally sponsored Florida’s original parental consent amendment when no one else would, Florida’s ‘Choose Life’ License Plate law, and passed Florida’s landmark parental notification bill as Senate President,” Gardiner said.
And Gaetz lauded Lee as the “strong leader” needed to replace Storms, who got on the wrong side of Senate leaders including Gaetz on a variety of issues, including prison privatization, this year.
“As a former senator and former Senate president, Tom brings solid experience and a track record of real accomplishments to Tallahassee. He will hit the ground running at full speed with the knowledge and skill to help build Florida’s future. Tom Lee will be a leader in the Florida Senate the moment he walks on the floor,” Gaetz said. “Personally, I look forward to working closely with Senator Lee and relying on him for guidance and advice during my years as Senate President.”