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Why Might Sen. Lee Say 'Yes' To Lt. Gov. Role? Some Experts Say Change Of Pace

SenTomLee1216.jpg
Florida Senate
Senator Tom Lee (R-Brandon), one of the names left on Governor Rick Scott's "shortlist."

As speculation mounts that no one wants to be Governor Rick Scott’s Lieutenant Governor, there may be one candidate on Scott’s so-called shortlist who could be leaning toward giving Scott a “yes.” 

Already half the people on Governor Rick Scott’s “shortlist” have told him they do not want be his Second-in-Command. That leaves Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman and Brandon Republican Senator Tom Lee. And, speaking on Bay News 9’s “Political Connections” Sunday, Lee appeared amendable to the idea.

“So, it’s a great opportunity to serve the people in the state of Florida. I have a deep affection for this Governor and the job he’s done. Some things people find politically awkward about his style, I find endearing because I’ve been around politicians, and it really hasn’t worked for us very well. So, I like him personally, and I think he’s doing a great job as Governor,” said Lee.

“It may well be that Governor Scott has enlisted him to fulfill a special role, perhaps as a liaison with the Legislature or some other leadership role,” said Stetson University Political Scientist T. Wayne Bailey.

Bailey says under Florida law, Governor Scott can make the position as significant as he wishes. And if Scott made a deal with Lee to do that, it could pique Lee’s interest.

Lee has spent 10 years in the Florida Senate, serving as that chamber’s President during his last term, which ended in 2006. He vied for a different Senate seat in 2012 and won. Bailey says that may also factor into Lee’s thinking.

“Also, I suspect that from the viewpoint of Senator Lee, having been Senate President, the role of sitting Senator beyond that is usually minimalized, and then therefore, if he’s going to accomplish great things policy wise, it would probably be in another role—perhaps as Lieutenant Governor, even if that position has in recent years not been a very effective megaphone for whoever operates in it,” Bailey added.

Still, if Lee does turn down the role, he says it’s because there’s a lot of travel associated with the statewide position. So, he understands where others who have turned down the role are coming from.

“For me, my big consideration is my businesses and my family. It’s a statewide position.  There’s a lot of travel associated with it. I’ve got a 16-month-old daughter. So there’s a lot of considerations to it, and most of the people he’s talked to have all got positions that they’re already serving in and they’ve built their lives around those positions. So, it is a great opportunity for someone, but it's also a tough personal decision,” said Lee.

If Lee says "no," that would just leave Murman, the only woman on Scott’s radar.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.