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Veteran’s group backs Andrew Learned for HD 59

The group has spent more than $22 million helping elect — or defeat — candidates.

The group VoteVets is backing Andrew Learned for House District 59.

VoteVets is a progressive political organization dedicated to ensuring veterans have the resources they need to complete their missions abroad and receiving the support they need back home, according to the group’s website.

“We at VoteVets are always so proud to see veterans like you committed to continuing their service after the uniform,” said Jon Soltz, an Iraq War veteran and chair of the VoteVets PAC. “In these turbulent political times, our veterans, communities and country need leaders like you who will continue to serve the nation and put the country first.”

VoteVets has 600,000 supporters nationwide. Since 2006, the group has spent more than $2 million helping candidates it supports with direct mail, phone banking and voter canvassing. They’ve also aired more than $22 million worth of television and radio ads advocating for candidates the group supports and working to defeat those it doesn’t.

Learned is running to replace Rep. Adam Hattersley in the House District that represents parts of east Hillsborough County. Hattersley won the seat in 2018, replacing former Rep. and now Congressman Ross Spano and flipping the seat blue.

Hattersley is now running for Congress against Spano, leaving Republicans with an opening to reclaim the seat.

Learned had been running against Spano, but the two swapped races this summer. He previously ran in the Congressional District 15 race against Kristen Carlson. Carlson won the Democratic primary with 53 percent of the vote compared to Learned’s 32 percent and went on to lose against Spano. But the Congressional race left Learned with name recognition in the House district he now seeks, which largely overlaps with Spano’s Congressional district.

Learned faces one challenger in the Democratic primary — Mark Oliver. The winner will take on one of two Republicans running — Michael Owen or Melissa Haskins.

Learned has raised nearly $21,000 for his race. His primary opponent hasn’t raised anything. In the Republican race, Owen has raised more than $58,000 while Haskins has raised less than $10,000.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at Janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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