Central Florida Republican primary voters threw a congressman out of office on Tuesday night as Lakeland City Commissioner Scott Franklin defeated U.S. Rep. Ross Spano, R-Fla.
Spano drew fire over campaign loans from the 2018 election cycle and top Republicans took sides in the primary. U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., backed Spano while U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd stood behind Franklin.
When the smoke cleared on Tuesday, Franklin won by less than 600 votes, taking 51.3 percent of the vote while Spano pulled 48.7 percent.
Franklin will take on former TV anchor Alan Cohn who won the Democratic primary on Tuesday night.
Cohn, who ran for Congress in 2014, pulled 41 percent, giving him a solid lead over state Rep. Adam Hattersley, D-Riverview, who took 33 percent. Hattersley had some big names behind him including St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman. Veteran Jesse Philippe took 26 percent.
This district leans Republican and Franklin has less baggage than Spano, making the new GOP standard-bearer something of a favorite as the general election contest begins.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.