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Florida Senate 20: Tom Lee wins seat over challenger Kathy Lewis

Incumbent is re-elected despite losing in Hillsborough County
Republican Tom Lee has been re-elected to represent District 20 in the State Senate. (Courtesy of Tom Lee)
Published Nov. 7, 2018
Updated Nov. 7, 2018
  • State Sen. Tom Lee has been re-elected to his seat in Senate District 20.
  • Lee had about 53.5 percent of votes, compared to Kathy Lewis’ 46.5 percent, in Hillsborough, Pasco and Polk counties.
  • For more election results, check here.
Republican Sen. Tom Lee will hold onto his seat in the Florida Senate, despite losing one of three counties that make up his district.

Lee had about 53.5 percent of the overall votes. Democrat and first-time candidate Kathy Lewis won Hillsborough County, however, with about 52 percent of that vote.

“Hillsborough was a tough county to run in as a Republican tonight,” Lee said from Orlando, while awaiting results in the governor’s race. “But as far the race itself,  as I told Kathy and several other people, she was just a real class act.” 

Lee, 56, of Thonotosassa, has spent all but six of the last 22 years representing east Hillsborough County in Tallahassee.

District 20, which historically leans Republican, covers the corner where Hillsborough, Polk and Pasco counties meet. It includes much of the the University of South Florida campus, New Tampa and Wesley Chapel.

Lee had a strong lead in Polk County, which has the fewest number of precincts in the district, and in Pasco County.

Lee, who operates a Brandon-based home-building business with his father, ran his campaign as a “homegrown businessman” and “a determined conservative reformer.” He’s spent most of his life in Hillsborough County and graduated from the University of Tampa. 

He served in the Senate for a decade starting in 1996, including Senate president from 2004-06. Facing term limits, he ran unsuccessfully for  state chief financial officer. He ran again for Senate in 2012 and was re-elected in 2016 but just for a two-year term because of redistricting.

Lee and his wife, Hillsborough Circuit Judge Laurel Lee, have three children.

Lewis, a Baltimore native and former motivational speaker, has lived in Pasco's portion of the district for the last decade.

The 57-year-old advocates for an improved health care system and was inspired to run, in part, because of the difficulties she experienced obtaining services for her adult daughter with autism.

Lee said he plans to work with Lewis to ensure those who voted for her in Hillsborough are represented. He intends to focus his time in Tallahassee on education and health care.

Lee will serve a four-year term and be paid an annual salary of $29,697.

For national and statewide election results check out The Buzz

For local election results check out the Bay Buzz

For school board election results check out The Gradebook.

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