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J.C. Martin calls in chips for the Polk County Commission District 3 race

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

J.C. Martin, a Republican candidate for the Polk County Commission District 3 seat, knows the value of hard work for his party and is learning the favors that can be stored up by it.

He has an all-star cast of Republicans backing him for his Dec. 14 fundraiser including a personal appearance by Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, himself a U.S. Senate candidate.

Okeechobee Republican congressman Tom Rooney has endorsed Martin by way of lending his name to the host committee for the event.

Martin is the state committeeman for the Polk County Republican Executive Committee, chair of the Polk County election committee of Florida’s 17th Congressional District and serves as parliamentarian for the Republican Party of Florida.

Martin’s fundraiser will be held 5-7 p.m. on the 14th at the Lakeland home of Linda Ivell, a former state committeewoman and delegate to the 2012 Republican National Convention.

Among others lending their names to the fundraiser are Wauchula Republican state Rep. Ben Albritton, Jimmy Nelson, former county party chairman; Melissa Dalton, president of the Lakeland Republican Women’s Club and a host of other Republican activists in the county. Albritton represents House District 56, which covers parts of Hardee and DeSoto counties.

No Democrats have entered the District 3 commission race. In fact, not a single Democrat has served on the five-member Polk County Commission for almost a decade and a half.

Martin is one of three Republicans running for the seat to be vacated by Commissioner Ed Smith, who is term-limited and running for the Florida House. In February, Smith filed for the House District 41 seat now held by term-limited state Rep. John Wood, a Winter Haven Republican.

Republican Rennie Heath, also of Winter Haven, is leading District 3 field in contributions as of the last campaign finance reporting period with $47,100 to Martin’s $7,265. A third GOP candidate for the county commission post, William Charles Braswell of Auburndale entered the race after the last reporting period and has no contributions listed as yet.

Former Ledger of Lakeland columnist Bill Rufty is Central Florida political correspondent for SaintPetersBlog and Florida Politics. Rufty had been with the Ledger from 1985-2015, where, as political editor, he covered a wide range of beats, including local and state politics, the Lakeland City Commission, and the Florida Legislature. Ledger editor Lenore Devore said about Rufty’s 30-year career: “[He is] a man full of knowledge, a polling expert and a war history buff … who has a steel trap in his brain, remembering details most of us have long since forgotten.”

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