Both candidates in the May 1 election for the District 39 seat in the Florida House of Representatives claim to be pro-agriculture and pro-guns, important issues in the largely rural district (map). But they are separated by age (Republican Josie Tomkow is 22; Democrat Ricky Shirah is 64) and the amount of campaign donations they’ve attracted. Shirah claims Tomkow has raised $148,000 – 10 times as much as he has – because she is supported by special interests and the NRA. Tomkow replies: “I worked in Tallahassee, and I can’t help that I have connections in Tallahassee and here in the district.”
Gregory Pilkington of Indian Lake Estates is focusing on public education in his bid for the Democratic nomination to succeed Dennis Ross in Congress. His platform includes relieving teachers from having to pay federal income tax.
Lakeland homebuilder Sean Harper (LinkedIn profile) is the newest likely candidate named as the Tampa Bay Times reports that the GOP primary for the Congressional seat being vacated by Dennis Ross is shaping up as a Polk-vs.-Hillsborough battle. Hillsborough has more voters in District 15 as a result of the latest reapportionment of Florida’s U.S. House districts. On the Democratic side, The Times reports: “Andrew Learned of Valrico is mounting a spirited campaign. There are no signs of new Democrats joining the race.”
Neil Combee of Polk City, who recently resigned from the Florida House of Representatives to take a federal agriculture position, has announced he is running for the Republican nomination for the U.S. House seat being vacated by Dennis Ross. Other announced candidates for the GOP nomination include Loretta Miller of Clermont, Danny Kushmer of Brandon, Ed Shoemaker of Lakeland and Florida Rep. Ross Spano of Dover.
Updating Thursday’s post about which local Republicans will be running for the local U.S. House seat now that incumbent Dennis Ross has announced he’s not seeing re-election: State Sen. Kelli Stargel of Lakeland and state Rep. Ben Albritton of Wauchula say they’re not running, but former state Rep. Neil Combee of Polk City hints on Facebook he might run.
Dennis Ross’ surprise announcement that he’s not seeking re-election opens speculation about which Republicans will decide to seek their party’s nomination for the District 15 seat.
Michael Maguire analyzes spending in last year’s city of Lakeland elections in his blog, The City Zen Ship, and concludes that money didn’t always dictate the outcome. If money had been the deciding factor, he notes, Jorge Fonseca would have been in a runoff with Larry Durrence for the southwest seat on the City Commission instead of Michael Dunn. Instead, Dunn made it into the runoff and, with a supercharged fund-raising effort in the final sprint, was able to get elected.
Florida Sen. Kelli Stargel, a Lakeland Republican, said during floor debate Saturday: “When we say ‘thoughts and prayers,’ it’s frowned upon. And I take real offense at that because thoughts and prayers are really the only thing that’s gonna stop the evil from within the individual who is taking up their arms to do this kind of a massacre.” Read more on The Buzz, a Tampa Bay Times blog.
Republican voters in a district that’s mostly north and east of Lakeland city limits selected Josie Tomkow, a 22-year-old recent University of Florida graduate, as their candidate for Florida House of Representatives District 39. She amassed 64 percent of the vote in her race against Jennifer Spath, a 34-year-old former prosecutor, outpolling her 4,314 votes to 2,471. Tomkow faces Democrat Ricky Shirah, 64, in a May 1 special election.