Incumbent Loss in Florida Republican Primary

The Story:

In an upset result in the Republican primary for Florida’s 15th Congressional District last week, one-term incumbent Rep. Ross Spano lost to challenger Scott Franklin. Franklin will face Alan Cohn, the Democratic Party’s candidate, in the November election.

Background:

The 15th district represents the northeastern suburbs of Tampa. Spano was born in Tampa in 1966, graduated from the University of South Florida in 1994, and FSU’s College of Law in 1998.

Spano defeated Democratic candidate Kristen Carlson in 2018 to represent the 15th in the House. It soon became public that he had accepted more money from two friends than the law allows for individual contributions. Spano appears to have arranged the transactions so that it would appear certain campaign expenditures were coming from his personal funds rather than from these friends. He claims it was an honest mistake on his part, not a deliberate violation.

With his loss to Franklin, Spano becomes the eighth House incumbent to lose a primary this year.

The Thing to Know:

The primary was not fought over policy differences — Spano and Franklin are both standard-issue Trump supporters. It was fought over electability. Franklin contended that Spano was a weak candidate, due to the campaign finance issues, and that his weakness would allow Cohn to turn the seat blue in November.

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