Former prosecutor Jennifer Spath has filed to run for the special election in House District 39, seeking to replace form state Rep. Neil Combee, who resigned last month to take a federal job.

Spath, a Republican from Bartow, is a fourth generation Floridian who said she’ll be running on conservative principles, including support for gun rights, low taxes, and fiscal transparency, and opposition to abortion and sanctuary cities. She is a fourth-generation Floridian.

“To truly understand the challenges and needs of District 39, it’s important that the future representative has lived, paid taxes, and owned a home within the district,” Spath stated in a press release issued by her new campaign.

Republican Josie Tomkow of Polk City also has entered the race, and already has raised $50,000 in three weeks, which is headed toward a February 20 special primary election, and a May 1 special general election if any non-Republicans get into the field.

House District 39 covers Polk County and part of western Osceola County.

“I spent several years at the State Attorney’s Office successfully prosecuting criminals to ensure that the people of Polk County were safe,” Spath stated. “Sanctuary cities pose a great threat to the safety and security of Floridians. It’s time for the legislature to step up and put a ban into effect.”

Spath is the public affairs manager for Community Based Care of Central Florida, developing policy and advocacy messages relating to foster children.

She previously served as assistant state attorney for the 10th Judicial Circuit in Polk County trying more than 50 jury trials to completion. During her time as a prosecutor, her cases ranged from domestic violence, battery, and drug trafficking, to DUI manslaughter and attempted murder.

“My experience as a prosecutor coupled with my role as public affairs manager has helped mold me into a fierce advocate, a trait which I will take to Tallahassee to fight for the well-being of the constituents of District 39 and the great state of Florida,” Spath stated.

Spath currently serves as the president of the Polk Association of Women Lawyers. She is a member of the Suburban Republican Women’s Club and the Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division. She attended the Political Leadership Institute.

She holds a law degree from Stetson University College of Law and a bachelor’s  degree in political science from the University of Florida. She lives in Bartow with her husband, Chris, and their daughter.

About The Author

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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