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Politics / Issues
What you need to know about the 2020 elections across the greater Tampa Bay region.

Ross Spano Faces 'Serious Challenge' For Congressional Seat

Scott Franklin and Ross Spano
Franklin and Ross campaigns
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Lakeland City Commissioner Scott Franklin, left, is challenging incumbent Congressman Ross Spano, right, in the District 15 primary

Florida's primary elections are coming up Tuesday. One of the more hotly-contested Congressional races involves an incumbent embroiled in allegations he broke federal campaign finance laws.

District 15 has been represented the past two years by Republican Ross Spano, who is facing a challenge from Lakeland City Commissioner Scott Franklin. Franklin has received endorsements from high-profile Republicans including Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd and panhandle Congressman Matt Gaetz.

The district includes portions of Polk, Hillsborough and Lake counties and political journalist William March says Spano has been weakened by Justice Department investigations.

"It's a serious challenge from Franklin," March said. "There is a possiblity at least that he could win. If Spano wins the primary and keeps the nomination to keep his seat, Democrats think that they have a chance to unseat him because of federal investigations, which still are not resolved."

Democrats vying for the seat include fomer television journalist Alan Cohn and state Rep. Adam Hattersley.

Spano acknowledged he unwittingly broke campaign finance laws during his 2018 campaign by borrowing nearly $200,000 in loans from two friends. Campaign contributions from individuals are capped at just under $3,000.