14 Jan Combee flyer falsely claims he’s the only candidate from Polk
Republican primary opponent Ed Shoemaker: “Everyone wants to win this race but my lord why stoop to something like that to win a race.”
LAKELAND — Hey, Neil Combee, where’s the Polk County love?
The Congressional candidate for the District 15 seat recently sent a flyer to Republican residents that claims he’s the “only candidate who lives and works in Polk County.”
That’s not true.
Candidates Sean Harper and Ed Shoemaker both live and work in Lakeland.
Harper, 48, was born and raised in Lakeland. He lives off Lake Miriam and runs a construction and real estate business on South Florida Avenue.
“Neil used to work some for my dad,” Harper said. “He sold some real estate for him.”
Shoemaker, 58, runs a mental health practice in Lakeland and is a Florida Republican Party committeeman for Polk County. He also lives in South Lakeland.
“I’m really disappointed with that,” Shoemaker said of the flyer. “My wife and I have both worked here and lived in Lakeland for the last 14 years.”
Combee said it was a mistake, adding that it was a last-minute decision to add the portion about Polk County.
But he said that Harper and Shoemaker wouldn’t have liked the correct version any more than what was sent.
“It was supposed to say, ‘the only candidate who lives and works in Polk County who can win this election,’” Combee said.
Combee, a former state representative from Polk City, said he thinks the primary has turned into a two-person race between him and State Rep. Ross Spano, R-Dover.
The flyer touts Combee’s connection to President Donald Trump and his gun rights legislation.
District 15 extends from Temple Terrace and Brandon on the west to Clermont in the northeast. Lakeland is the only major incorporated city in the district in Polk County.
Half of the district’s voters live in Hillsborough County, 35 percent in Polk County and 15 percent in Lake County.
The flyer states, “Don’t let Tampa steal our congressional representation.”
The seat has been based in Lakeland for years.
Spano has said if elected he will have his main office in Lakeland, possibly on Fitzgerald Road where Dennis Ross currently has an office. Ross announced his retirement in April.
In addition to Combee, Spano, Shoemaker and Harper, the Republican race features Danny Kushmer, of Brandon.
The winner on Aug. 28 will face the Democratic primary winner on Nov. 6.
Combee, who works on his cattle farm and sells real estate in Polk, has apologized to Shoemaker and Harper.
But Shoemaker remained irritated on Thursday.
“Everyone wants to win this race but my lord why stoop to something like that to win a race,” he said.
John Chambliss can be reached at email@example.com or 863-802-7588.