Congressman Ross Spano is extending his temporary campaign suspension amid ongoing fears of the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to reduce its spread.
“I will continue to focus solely on providing the necessary resources to help my constituents stay healthy and to revive the economy by assisting small businesses, employees, and families,” Spano said.
Spano first announced he was temporarily suspending all campaign-related activity on March 16. He didn’t say how long the extension to that plan would continue.
Spano represents Florida’s 15th Congressional District in east Hillsborough County. He’s seeking his first reelection after first winning the seat in 2018.
Lakeland City Commissioner Scott Franklin, also a Republican, filed to run against Spano the same week Spano announced his campaign suspension, a move Spano heavily criticized at the time.
“My approach to public service has always been People not Politics. Yesterday, I announced a temporary pause to my campaign to fully address this public health crisis related to COVID-19. I find it unsettling that Scott Franklin would choose to launch a campaign during these trying times,” Spano said.
Two Democrats are also vying to replace him including Rep. Adam Hattersley and former ABC 7 Sarasota newsman Alan Cohn.
If Spano wins the primary election against Franklin he will take on the winner of the Democratic primary in what is likely to be a difficult reelection campaign for the incumbent.
Spano faces an onslaught of criticism stemming from illegal loans he accepted from friends during his 2018 campaign. Spano borrowed $70,000 from Karen Hunt and $110,000 from Cary Carreno through four personal loans. He then contributed the money to Ross Spano for Congress through installments between May 3 and Oct. 29.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has consistently made Spano’s loans an issue in the race, which is one of the DCCC’s top 2020 targets to flip blue.