Attacks on Charlie Crist Show Tom Lee is Back

By: Jeff Henderson | Posted: August 16, 2014 3:55 AM
Tom Lee and Charlie Crist

Tom Lee and Charlie Crist

Tom Lee has become one of the main Republicans attacking Charlie Crist as he looks to return to leading the Florida Senate.

This week, robocalls went out from “The Conservatives,” a group with ties to Lee. The robocalls went out across Florida and featured Crist espousing conservative positions from his various bids for office back when he was a Republican. But, as Crist is now a Democrat, his past statements and positions could come back to haunt him, though he should easily cruise over Nan Rich in the primary later this month.

Lee made no secret that his group was behind the robocalls and they were only the tip of the iceberg. The Conservatives also had an entire website with a collection of clips with Crist’s conservative comments on a range of issues and photos of the new Democrat with the likes of George W. Bush, Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin.

By going after Crist, Lee hopes to show he remains a force in Florida politics. There’s a temptation to write Lee off as a has-been after his Senate presidency and his loss to Alex Sink back in 2006. Lee bounced back to some extent in 2012, impressively beating Rachel Burgin in the Republican primary but he didn’t exactly set the world on fire in the general election, beating Democrat Elizabeth Belcher by only 8 percent to head back to Tallahassee.

Lee has floated his name as Senate president candidate to lead the chamber after the 2020 elections. But, despite his past tenure in charge of the Senate, Lee is drawing opposition, namely from Wilton Simpson and Bill Galvano.

His past glories aside, Lee is still a factor though he has not come close in sealing up another term as Senate president. While he has been a familiar figure in Tallahassee for almost 20 years now, Lee is only 52. Despite the loss to Sink, Lee is correct in thinking he’s not done yet. He will still be a factor in Tallahassee for years to come, even if he doesn’t reclaim the Senate presidency.

With his attacks on Crist, Lee has inserted himself back into the political dialogue. Lee has also opened up a pretty impressive line of attack against Crist. Even with his economic record, party switches and flips on every major issue, Crist is much more charming and charismatic than Rick Scott. That will be on display when the candidates are paired together in the months to come.

But Crist can easily be depicted as a candidate who will say anything and then reverse himself to get elected. Lee’s robocalls and website effectively show that Crist is more driven by his own ambition than by anything resembling basic principles. It’ll be interesting to see what more Lee and his group do as they look to undermine Crist’s base and drive independents away from him.

At the very least, Lee’s attacks on Crist will draw Republican cheers for the once and possible future Senate president. Eight years after losing to Sink, Tom Lee is showing he remains a force in Florida.

Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.

Comments (8)

10:02AM AUG 18TH 2014
In his own words indeed. Its funny to hear Democrats defending the words Charlie said. Smart guys like Dan Gelber had no business getting in bed (proverbially) with a guy with zero principles like Charlie.

I fully support truth, and blasting these truths out to every household in Florida. Its hilarious.

As for Tom Lee, love him or hate him, but the guy apparently has ball$. Good for him. Its refreshing.
1:56PM AUG 17TH 2014
And I knew Florida's own Karl Rove/Lee Atwater clone Stafford Jones had to be involved.
Nothing is beneath him or the Florida Republican Party.
Really stealing elections by all means only a few fair and almost all foul.
The Republican way.
11:46AM AUG 16TH 2014
I use to vote for Lee and not for Crist. Now Lee has changed from moderate for people to hard right and Crist more moderate, that has reversed.

All the repubs I liked have been thrown under the bus like Dockery, Chris to where there isn't any repubs left worth voting for.

Sadly Fla repubs are only interested in letting large corporations ripped of the public like Duke, Big sugar, etc.

Let's remember everything Lee and Scott say about Crist was sent to him by repubs who made the laws.

So is Scott running against the Senate, House repubs that voted for the same things?
11:20AM AUG 16TH 2014
Thanks for the information, let's see Tom Lee on the not to support list. Why? Anyone not running with a plan and only running dirt gets a zero on my vote for list.
Middle class economy
10:44AM AUG 16TH 2014
The main reason I am voting for Crist is that he has been both a Republican and a Democrat. I am a middle ground person. I agree with some of what each party says and am looking for a more centrist candidate. I hope Charlie Crist will be the person who can find middle ground.
8:59PM AUG 18TH 2014
When you stand in the middle of the road, there is a good chance of getting run over. It's time Democrats grew a set and not allow the t-party to hijack our government.
John Browning
8:52AM AUG 16TH 2014
Tom Lee is the most arrogant, self-serving and despised legislator, other than Matt Gaetz of the 160 members of the legislature. The entire lobbying core will be actively working against his run for Senate President and he does not stand a chance. He should take a lesson from Wilton Simpson in kindness and humility. His outrageous attack on Sen. Simpson in committee during session was unprecedented and showed his true colors. He will be sucking hind teat in the Senate for the next four years!!!
12:09PM AUG 16TH 2014
Spot on.

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