If Republicans want to hold on to a congressional seat covering the western part of Polk County, the eastern part of Hillsborough County and the southern part of Lake County, it’s time to raise some money.
Freshman U.S. Rep. Ross Spano, R-Fla., is running for reelection–but first he is repaying money he lent his campaign last year. That money is the subject of an ethics complaint and investigation that could be hindering Spano’s efforts to bank cash in what could end up being a hotly contested seat.
The U.S. House Ethics Committee is looking into the legality of more than $180,000 Spano received from friends for his campaign. He then paid them back with a bank loan, according to the complaint, which could be against campaign finance rules. This quarter, instead of sending out a press release touting their fundraising efforts, the Spano campaign stressed that it was using raised money to repay those loans.
The Spano team explained that this move “comes at the recommendation of staff from the Federal Election Commission in response to Spano’s self-reporting of the personal loans”.
Meanwhile, the Democrats pounced on Spano’s announcement.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) sent out its own release, basically crossing out what Spano’s team wrote and inserting their own comments, calling his numbers “abysmal” and “his worst quarter of 2019.”
Democrats are excited about state Rep. Adam Hattersley, D-Riverview, being in the race. Hattersley raised $115,000 in the quarter and proclaimed he did that without taking any money from corporate PACs.
“We’re building a grassroots campaign to replace self-serving politicians like Ross Spano with leaders who will serve with honor and integrity and our campaign is gaining steam every day,” Hattersley insisted. “I won’t go to Washington to serve the wealthy special interests and that’s why I’m not taking any corporate PAC money in my campaign.”
Hattersley also picked up the endorsement of St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman whose city is not in the district.
“We need a new generation of leadership in Washington and Adam Hattersley is the best choice for the people of Florida’s 15th congressional district,” Kriseman said. “He’s serving Tampa Bay honorably in the Florida Legislature after winning a tough election and flipping Ross Spano’s state house seat from red to blue. We could use a lot fewer self-serving politicians in Washington and a lot more small business owners and veterans like Adam.”
Hattersley fought in Iraq from 2006-2007 and won a Bronze Star for his efforts there.
Spano is making his own moves to try and get back to Congress. Out is long-time advisor and campaign manager Brock Mikosky. Replacing him will be Mac Stevenson, a veteran strategist from Tallahassee veteran, and campaign fundraiser Kevin Hoffman.
“I am excited about having such a dynamic and well-respected team in place to ensure our district continues to have strong conservative representation in Washington,” said Spano. “Make no mistake about it. Conservative values are under attack and, if we don’t fight hard to preserve them, we run the risk of being overrun by the liberal Democrat agenda.”
Clearly both sides believe this is their race to win. Expect this race to pick up some attention at the national and state levels.
Reach Mike Synan at email@example.com.