Josie Tomkow draws Democratic challenger in HD 51
Josie Tomkow is helping close the digital gap.

Davenport Democrat Octavio Eduardo Hernandez entered the race on Monday.

Polk City Republican state Rep. Josie Tomkow will face a challenger in her bid for a fourth full term in the House.

Division of Elections records show Davenport Democrat Octavio Eduardo Hernandez opened a campaign account to run for House District 51, becoming the first candidate to challenge the incumbent in the 2024 cycle.

HD 51 covers part of Polk County. Democrats hold a narrow advantage in voter registrations, according to the most recent book closing report published by the Division of Elections. A plurality of the HD 51 electorate comprises third- and no-party voters, who hold a 34% share of overall registrations while Republicans and Democrats account for approximately 33% apiece.

However, the district has voted resoundingly Republican in recent cycles. An analysis by Matt Isbell of MCI Maps shows Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis carried the district by more than 20 points last year, as did U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

Tomkow also has a fundraising advantage. As of June 30, the incumbent had collected $24,300 for her campaign and had $19,305 in the bank.

The candidate has bundled more in her affiliated political committee, Florida Farmers and Ranchers United, which has raised $161,500 since her re-election to a third full term last year. It had more than $415,000 on hand as of June 30.

If Hernandez qualifies for the ballot next year, Tomkow will face her first General Election test under the district lines put in place by lawmakers last year. In the 2022 cycle, she went unchallenged in November.

She was opposed in the Primary by Davenport Republican Bill Olson, whom she easily dispatched after earning 67% of the vote in a head-to-head race.

Tomkow was first elected to the House in a 2018 Special Election to succeed former state Rep. Neil Combee, who resigned his post to accept an appointment as Florida’s State Director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency. She was re-elected to the old House District 39 by a 17-point margin in both 2018 and 2020.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


  • The Children

    July 20, 2023 at 9:50 am

    Who will keep Florida’s children safe from dangerous books if this Dirty, Drag Queen Loving Democrat gets in and the Moms For Liberty gets sent home?

  • tom palmer

    July 20, 2023 at 4:47 pm

    It would interesting to know why her opponent is running and why he thinks the district needs new representation. Maybe some additional reporting is in order.
    The stupidest thing I ever heard come out of Rep. Tomkow’s moth was the canard that farmers were the first environmentalists.
    Farming by its nature often takes a toll on the environment because it involves clearing native habitat to plant crops and eliminating wildlife farmers think threaten their livelihoods. That is why Carolina parakeets are extinct, red wolves are nearly functionally extinct and Florida panthers are endangered as are many plant species on habitat cleared for citrus production.

    • Dont Say FLA

      July 20, 2023 at 8:21 pm

      Mom For Liberty Tomkow should pop on up to Providence Canyon State Park in South Georgia and check out some early “environmentalism” from farmers, lol.

      Maybe she was thinking about irrigation issues out west. One can hope.

Comments are closed.


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