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Andrew Learned is kicking off his House campaign.

Tampa Bay

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 the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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