Republican Tom Lee Resigns From Florida Senate; Leaves Door Open For Potential Run For Another Political Seat

Republican Sen. Tom Lee is resigning from his Senate District 20 seat two years before his term is up, but he may not be out of politics for good.

Lee, a state senator who previously served as Florida’s Speaker of the House, informed GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis of his decision to resign.

Lee was very much a supporter of President Donald Trump. So his resignation from the state Senate could potentially be at risk, giving Democrats a chance to win it and go after the president.

“Today, I officially submitted my resignation from the Florida Senate to Governor DeSantis, effective November 3, 2020. It has been the greatest honor of my career serving as a Senator for a total of 18 years and most recently representing the citizens of District 20. I cannot thank them enough for their unwavering support and trusting me to stand up for their interests in Tallahassee,” Lee said, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Lee is reportedly considering running for Hillsborough County Clerk of the Court.

“Off and on, I have considered resigning from the Senate since I finished up as Chair of Appropriations for my friend, President Gardiner in 2016 and my decision to resign from the Senate at this time was independent of any future plans,” Lee said.

“During the shutdown, I took the time to teach our daughter, Faith (7) to ride her bike and it got me thinking about all that I am missing by having to reside within my Senate district while they are in Tallahassee full time and to what end. There’s a chance that I decide to run for the Clerk of the Court here in Hillsborough County, but that’s not what motivated me to resign from the Senate at this time,” he continued.

Lee faced a Friday deadline to make a decision about the Clerk’s bid.

Lee is also reportedly concerned about leaving his Senate seat vacant during the coronavirus crisis.

In the near future, the state Legislature will be called into Special Session and appoint someone to take his seat.

Fortunately, Republicans control the state Legislature in Florida, but his resignation could put his state Senate seat into play if Democrats make a push.

The Tampa Bay Times notes:

Lee’s state Senate District 20 is significantly Republican-leaning, said local political consultants in both parties, but Democrats believe that with the right candidate, they have a chance to flip it.

“This is a monumental opportunity for us,” if the party can get the right candidate, said state Sen. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, predicting a high-profile battle for the seat.

With Democrats currently holding 17 of the 40 Senate seats and hoping to get close to parity with Republicans, the result could affect such crucial matters as the drawing of legislative and congressional district lines, which the Legislature will do following the 2020 Census, she said.

While most are largely focused on national politics, it’s crucial that Republicans maintain control of the state Legislature given Florida is a major swing state.