Three Florida House districts includes portions of Lakeland, but there are elections in just two of them. Rep. Melony Bell, a Republican whose District 49 includes parts of south Lakeland, was re-elected without opposition.
The two Lakeland-area House races on the Aug. 23 primary ballot each involve two Republican candidates. Since there is no Democratic opponent in either race, these are considered “universal primaries,” meaning any registered voter in the district can vote regardless of party status.
There is no incumbent in this race; Colleen Burton, who represented a similar district before this year’s reapportionment, reached term limits and is running for a state Senate seat. The candidates are Jennifer Canady, a Lakeland Christian School teacher who has been appointed to several statewide boards, and Phillip Walker, a 12-year member of the Lakeland City Commission and retired insurance agency owner.
- Lakeland, age 48
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- Campaign slogan: Conservative Republican for State Representative
- Endorsements: Business Voice (Lakeland Chamber of Commerce), Polk County Builders Association, Associated Industries of Florida, Florida Chamber, Police Benevolent Association
- At least two Lakeland Republicans running in Florida House primary — LkldNow, Feb. 21, 2021
- Jennifer Canady has early funding lead over Phillip Walker – The Ledger, June 19, 2021
- If Jennifer Canady wins Lakeland House race, husband Chief Justice Charles Canady could face legal issues – The Ledger, August 12, 2021
- Video: NAACP Candidate Forum – Jennifer Canady and Phillip Walker, Florida House District 50 – LkldNow, July 20
- Canady, Walker face off for Florida House seat – The Ledger, Aug. 9
Incumbent Josie Tomkow, who hails from a north Polk cattle family, is running for her third term in the Florida House. She faces Bill Olson of Davenport, who had planned to run for U.S. House against Darren Soto, but switched races after conservative east Polk was removed from Soto’s Democratic-leaning district.
- House Speaker-designate Paul Renner endorses Josie Tomkow for HD 51 – Florida Politics, June 6
- Bill Olson leaves US House race to challenge Representative Josie Tomkow in Florida House – The Ledger, June 22
- Tomkow and Olson run low-key campaigns, without forums or interviews – The Ledger, Aug. 12 (subscribers only)