LAKELAND — A 22-year-old Polk City woman has filed to run for the state House seat Neil Combee is leaving.
Republican Josie Tomkow, a University of Florida student who plans to graduate in December, filed papers to run for the District 39 seat that covers Auburndale, Polk City, North Lakeland and a portion of Osceola County.
Combee is backing the political science major over John Hall, 63, a county commissioner for the past five years who announced last week that he planned to run for the seat.
"I'm backing Josie without hesitation or reservation," Combee said. "She's a dynamo."
Combee submitted his resignation letter to the speaker of the House last week. His last day will be Nov. 24. He starts his new job as state director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency on Nov. 27.
That means a primary election could be 80 days from Combee's resignation date, sometime in mid-February. A special election is expected to be about 140 days from the day of resignation.
So far, no Democrats have filed for the seat.
Tomkow has worked for her parents' business, Cattlemen’s Livestock Market, in Lakeland for years. Her grandfather, Michael, started the business where Combee worked when he was younger.
Tomkow said she plans to work for the agricultural industry.
"I want to be that voice for them," she said. "Agriculture is under-represented in the legislature."
Tomkow said she had planned to run for the seat when Combee's term expired in 2020. She's worked in the majority office of the Florida Senate and for Florida Farm Bureau.
"I understand that my age will be a concern," Tomkow said. "But I plan on bringing a fresh perspective to the legislature."
"I want to show people I'm here for them," she said.
Tomkow is unmarried. She lives in Polk City on the family ranch on State Road 33.
John Chambliss can be contacted at 863-802-7588 or email@example.com