Tom Lee: Florida GOP at "All-Time Low"

Former State Senate President Tom Lee
TAMPA (2010-2-24) -

Former state Senate President Tom Lee is criticizing the naming of a 33-year-old Lake Mary representative as the future Speaker of the Florida House. He spoke after a meeting of the League of Women Voters of Hillsborough County.

The Brandon Republican says Tuesday's naming of Rep. Chris Dorworth as the speaker-in-waiting is problematic for the state GOP. Dorworth's home is in foreclosure and he owes nearly $3 million in a failed land deal.

But Lee says the main problem is Dorworth's lack of experience.

"These folks need to get to know each other, they need to get a grasp of the issues," Lee said. "They need to start making these decisions on their own, rather than having the lobbyists decide based up who they're going to finance and support with leadership money.

"And I just think that we'd be a lot better off if there could be some restraint in the rules of both chambers to preclude this kind of thing from happening four or five years out," he said.

But Lee acknowledges there is probably little chance that will happen. He also spoke about what he feels is an increase in partisanship and a decrease in civility in the state Legislature.

Lee said John Thrasher, the new head of the state Republican Party, is off to a good start.

He says Thrasher is ordering an internal audit so that Republican donors around the state can find how their money was being spent - and come up with ways to insure money won't be spent unwisely.

"The party is at an all-time low, it's damaged our governor, it's hurt the confidence that a lot of Republicans have in that apparatus, and he's got his work cut out for him trying to restore the confidence of Republicans in the state," he said.

To hear the complete audio of Tom Lee's address to the League of Women Voters, click on the "Full Audio" icon below.

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