In the race for Florida’s 15th Congressional District, which covers parts of Lakeland and east Hillsborough County, Democratic candidate Alan Cohn dominated in 2nd quarter fundraising.
Cohn raised $222,328, and left this quarter with just over $190,000 cash on hand. The Federal Election Commission reports cover earnings from April 1-June 30.
Cohn, a former investigative journalist, out-raised his primary opponent Adam Hattersley by $85,000 and one of the Republican candidates. Hattersley, a Navy veteran and businessman, raised $137,523 in the second quarter.
Hattersley has raised $548,955 to date, about $50,000 more than Cohn, and he left the quarter with $243,356 cash on hand.
The Democratic primary is, and has been for the duration of the race, between Hattersley and Cohn, though a third candidate is also running. Jesse Philippe, however, raised just $11,997 and has just $680 left on hand. Other than his own contributions to the campaign, Philippe had just three donors.
The winner of the Democratic primary will take on either incumbent Republican Ross Spano or his challenger, Lakeland City Commissioner Scott Franklin.
As has been the case, Spano could be in trouble if campaign finance is any indication.
Spano ended the quarter with $348,900 on hand, but has $113,517 in campaign debt, leaving him with just over $235,000 available. Franklin, meanwhile, has nearly $380,000 on hand in his mostly self-funded campaign.
Spano raised nearly $170,000 in the second quarter, the last quarterly report before the August 18 primary election. Franklin brought in nearly $235,000 including $140,000 in self-loans.
Spano’s debts are not entirely related to illegal loans he accepted in his 2018 campaign. New debt includes legal fees including more than $24,000 owed to Berke Farah, more than $22,000 to Holland & Knight and more than $7,000 to Christopher Amolsch. Spano accepted loans from friends in 2018 to the tune of $180,000 and then use that money to loan his campaign, which amounts to an excess of campaign contribution limits. Spano is still under federal investigation for the loans, of which he has repaid $110,000, according to reports filed with the FEC.
The fundraising numbers are dire for Spano. Because he drew a primary opponent, he’ll be forced to use limited resources — a paltry sum compared to other congressional incumbents who routinely raise funds in the millions — to ward off an intraparty challenge.
Whoever wins the Republican primary will face significant, and likely monied, opposition in the general election. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has made the district one of its top targets to flip this year. The DCCC hasn’t endorsed a Democratic candidate, but they’ve already began a pretty heated opposition campaign against Spano, a move that not only benefits the Democratic victor, but also Franklin in the primary.
A Franklin win would also be a win for the DCCC, as their candidate would be facing an open race rather than battling an incumbent. Though, it could also present issues with an opposition effort considering Franklin doesn’t come with Spano’s mountain of negatives.
Florida Politics’ Janelle Irwin contributed to this report.