Rep. Ross Spano loses Florida GOP primary amid campaign finance scrutiny

Rep. Ross Spano was defeated in the Republican primary for Florida’s 15th District on Tuesday, becoming the eighth House incumbent to lose their reelection bid this cycle.

City Commissioner Scott Franklin, a Navy veteran, scored the upset victory over Spano by winning 51 percent of the vote with 99 percent of precincts reporting.

Spano, who was first elected in 2018 after five-term Rep. Dennis Ross (R) retired, has been the subject of an ongoing campaign finance investigation after he accepted $180,000 in loans from two friends in 2018 and treated it as his own money for his congressional campaign.

Campaign finance rules allow candidates to loan any amount to their campaign from personal funds, but loans from others are treated like contributions and are limited to $2,700 per cycle.

Spano has acknowledged “mistakes” with the loans, calling them “inadvertent and unintentional.” He remains under investigation by the Department of Justice and the Florida Bar.

The incumbent GOP lawmaker maintained support from House GOP leaders and multiple other members of the Florida congressional delegation, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), though Franklin earned an endorsement from staunch Trump ally Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) earlier this month.

Democrats have taken aim at the district, hoping Spano’s instability would help them turn the seat blue. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has listed the district as one of its top targets this election cycle.

Franklin will now take on Democratic nominee Alan Cohn, a TV reporter who unsuccessfully challenged Ross in 2014. Nonpartisan election handicapper The Cook Political Report rates the race “Lean Republican.”

Tags Dennis Ross Marco Rubio Matt Gaetz Ross Spano Scott Franklin

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