Dueling endorsements escalate in Burgin-Lee race
The Republican primary for state Senate between Rep. Rachel Burgin of Riverview and former Senate President Tom Lee of Brandon is starting to create a stir as both Hillsborough County candidates are touting endorsements. They are battling in the newly-drawn Senate District 24 in east Hillsborough, which is being vacated by Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico.
In recent days, Lee has won the support of Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, and former House Speaker Allan Bense. On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, endorsed Lee, calling him "a solid, homegrown conservative leader."
Burgin announced a string of endorsements from House Republicans, including Reps. Eric Eisnaugle, Jason Brodeur, Ritch Workman, Mike Horner, Steve Precourt, Ben Allbritton, Matt Caldwell, Kathleen Passidomo and John Tobia. Accepting their support, Burgin said the race is "a choice between perpetuating the status quo or sending a solid conservative Republican" to the Senate.
Burgin announced plans by the Foley & Lardner law firm to sponsor a fund-raiser on her behalf. Lee will hold a fund-raiser on Thursday at the Governor's Club in Tallahassee where the co-hosts include incoming Senate President Don Gaetz and Senate Majority Leader Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando. The race is one of several in which Gaetz and other Senate GOP leaders have taken sides in advance of the Aug. 14 primary.