Neil Combee Draws an Old Foe as He Seeks Second House Term

By: Jeff Henderson | Posted: March 20, 2014 3:55 AM
Neil Combee

Neil Combee

As he readies to run for a second term in the Florida House, Neil Combee faces a familiar foe but should have no problem as he looks to extend his lengthy political career.

Combee might be a House freshman but he’s a longtime fixture in Polk County politics. Back in 1988, Combee won the first of four terms on the Polk County Commission. After that, he went on to serve seven years on the board of the Southwest Florida Water Management District. Combee might only be 54 but he has spent more than half of his life in Polk County politics.

Still, Combee’s background helps him in the House where he is older and has more experience than most of his fellow freshmen. Combee sits on the Regulatory Affairs and State Affairs Committees and the Economic Development and Tourism, Government Operations, and the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittees. Not a bad draw for a freshman.

With more than $120,500 in his bank accounts and no Democratic opponent, Combee had little problem winning an open House seat in 2012. He ran off in the general election with 65 percent while Carol Castagnero, a grandmother and retired teacher who hates the FCAT, got 35 percent for her no-party-affiliation bid. Castagnero is back to run against Combee again but this time she’s a Democrat.

As of the end of February, Combee’s fundraising hasn’t been particularly impressive. By the end of February, Combee had spent more than $35,000 of the $53,300 he had raised so far for his campaign.

But Combee should not need too much cash in this district. Republicans traditionally do well here and Rick Scott beat out Alex Sink here by more than 15 percent. This district, which covers parts of Osceola County and Combee’s own Polk County, is pretty solidly conservative.

Castagnero got in the race in February and hasn’t filed her first campaign finance report yet. She shouldn’t be much of a factor. During her three decades in Polk County, Castagnero has run for governor, Congress, both chambers of the Legislature and the Polk County School Board with a distinct lack of success.

Combee might not be assembling the strongest of war chests but he doesn’t need it. With his proven record of electoral wins, Combee should be able to crank up the fundraising once session is done and cruise to a second term.

Tallahassee based political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.

Comments (2)

11:44AM MAR 20TH 2014
The only constituency Neil Combee has ever helped is the Polk County Home Builders Association.
8:39PM JUN 17TH 2014
Glad somebody else can see how he just smoozhes his way to elective offices and a big salary for himself, and doesn't accomplish anything for the people.

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