Neil Combee, Republican candidate for the Congressional District 15 seat, is running as a disciple of President Donald Trump, but he's taking heat because he didn't back Trump in the 2016 presidential primary.
An anonymous website and Twitter account, www.nevertrumpneil.com and #nevertrumpneil, are attacking Combee for Facebook posts from 2016 in which Combee blasted Trump. The posts described Trump as a shallow thinker, deep in debt, given to "vindictive insults" toward opponents, and an egocentric, "telling everybody how pretty he is, how rich he is, how much everybody loves him."
The web site says it was paid for by an organization called "Civic" whose address is a parcel service storefront in McLean, Va., and which isn't listed on corporate or campaign finance records for Virginia or Florida. The Twitter account owner didn't respond to requests for an interview.
Asked about the attacks, Combee said the website was "cooked up by my opponents because they know I am the ONLY candidate trusted and appointed by President Trump." That refers to Trump's appointment of Combee, a former state House member from Polk County, to a Department of Agriculture post.
"They know that connection makes me head and shoulders the best and most conservative choice for Congress. … I will be his strongest ally in Congress."
Combee is one of five Republicans running for the seat from District 15, located in Hillsborough, Lake and Polk counties, vacated by retiring Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland.