Politics

GOP Hopefuls Scramble to Run for Ronda Storms' Senate Seat

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: May 30, 2012 3:55 AM
 myfloridahouse.gov

Tom Lee, Rep. Rich Glorioso, R-Plant City and Rep. Rachel Burgin, R-Tampa

Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Brandon, announced late last week that she will not run for reelection in November -- setting off a mad dash among prominent Republicans jumping into the race after the unexpected news.

With Storms choosing to offer a primary challenge to Hillsborough County Property Appraiser Rob Turner, two prominent Republicans moved quickly to enter the race, while a third is expected to make an announcement later in the week.

Former Senate President Tom Lee filed the paperwork Tuesday to run for the Senate seat which represents the eastern parts of  Hillsborough County. First elected to the Senate in 1996, Lee represented the area in the Senate for a decade, including serving his last two years as president of that chamber. He was the Republican nominee to run for state CFO in 2006, but came up short against Democrat Alex Sink. Sink took 53 percent of the popular vote, making her the only member of her party to serve in the state Cabinet at that time.

Lee announced late on Friday that he would seek the seat.

‭“‬Senator Storms and her unmatched conviction and unquestioned integrity will be sorely missed by the Hillsborough County delegation,‭ ‬and I thank her for her dedicated service to our community,” Lee said. “In her absence,‭ ‬Hillsborough County needs an experienced voice in Tallahassee who has delivered on conservative reforms that helped improve Florida’s jobs environment. With that urgent need in mind,‭ ‬I intend to file the initial paperwork to start the process of running for Senate to serve and lead on behalf of this community that I’ve lived,‭ ‬made a living and raised a family in for over‭ ‬40‭ ‬years.‭”

‭But Lee does not have an open shot at the Republican nomination. Rep. Rachel Burgin, R-Tampa, who has represented parts of Hillsborough County since winning her current House seat in 2008, announced that she will seek the seat. One of the most prominent social conservatives in the House, Burgin will  look to run to Lee’s right. While she had raised almost $72,000 by the end of March for her bid for a third term, Burgin’s campaign has already spent $35,000 of it.

Burgin could face a colleague from the Republican caucus in the Florida House -- Rep. Rich Glorioso, R-Plant City. Though Glorioso has been planning to run for county supervisor of elections, he has told the media that he will soon make a decision, probably later this week, about entering the race. First elected to the Florida House after eight years on the Plant City Commission, Glorioso currently represents parts of Hillsborough and Pasco counties.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or at (850) 727-0859

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