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Josie Tomkow seeks re-election, despite never seeing a Session

“Once more unto the breach, dear friends.” — King Henry the Fifth, William Shakespeare.

On Tuesday, state Rep. Josie Tomkow is running for re-election to Florida House District 39.

Nevertheless, she has not yet sat in a Legislative Session.

Elected May 1 to replace state Rep. Neil Combee, who resigned Nov. 24, 2017, to accept a job with USDA in Gainesville, she missed the Session which ended by the time of her Republican primary win.

The general election was May 1, when she defeated Lakeland Democrat Ricky Shira with 60 percent of the vote.


Shira, a perennial candidate for the Democratic Party, said he always puts his name on the ballot when he can’t recruit a Democrat because he doesn’t want registered Democrats to be without anyone to vote for.

Although not funded or supported by the state Democratic Party, Shira and volunteers made a strong effort in campaigning for the May 1 special election, garnering 40 percent of the vote.

During the 2018 session of the Florida Legislature of January and February, the residents of District 39 had no elected representation in the Florida House. Tomkow opened a district office after her May election.

Shira did almost no campaigning for Tuesday’s general election, although he put his name on the ballot again when he could find no Democrat willing to run. His total campaign fund for this election consisted of a $3,000 loan to himself, of which most went to the filing fee.

Tomkow finished with $97,194 with another $5,667 of in-kind services. She had spent $48,401 before the final weekend of the current election.

Her freshman term in the Legislature, if (as expected) she is elected, will begin in her second term.

Written By

Former Ledger of Lakeland columnist Bill Rufty is Central Florida political correspondent for SaintPetersBlog and Florida Politics. Rufty had been with the Ledger from 1985-2015, where, as political editor, he covered a wide range of beats, including local and state politics, the Lakeland City Commission, and the Florida Legislature. Ledger editor Lenore Devore said about Rufty’s 30-year career: “[He is] a man full of knowledge, a polling expert and a war history buff … who has a steel trap in his brain, remembering details most of us have long since forgotten.”

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