Meet Andrew Learned, a Democrat running for House District 59

"I’m running to turn things around and restore confidence and competence in our state government."

Nearly 250 candidates are vying for state House and state Senate seats in 2020. Try as we will, Florida Politics can’t interview all of them.

Just like in 2016 and 2018, we’re again asking every candidate to complete a questionnaire we believe offers an interesting, albeit, thumbnail sketch of who they are and why they are running. If you are a candidate and would like to complete the questionnaire, email [email protected]

Today’s feature: Andrew Learned, a Democratic candidate for House District 59.

In 25 words or less, why are you running for office?

I’m a Navy veteran who saw first hand the consequences of irresponsible leadership from Washington when we lost a US Navy SEAL in Yemen. Now, my small business is being devastated by COVID because of an inept response by Florida. I’m running to turn things around and restore confidence and competence in our state government.Education background?

Education background?

Economics and Government and World Affairs double major at the University of Tampa.

What was your first job?

Bunker-raker on a golf course.

Significant others? Kids?

Working on it! 🙂

Did you speak with anybody in your political party before deciding on running? Receive any encouragement?

Yes of course! Literally hundreds of my friends, clients, and supporters reached out after 2018 to encourage me to keep fighting here at home for a change for Florida. The incumbent Representative Adam Hattersley encouraged me to run, as did House Leadership Ben Diamond, Evan Jenne, and Bobby Dubose.

Who do you count on for advice?

Too many people to list! I think everyone brings to the table unique perspectives so when I am facing a challenge I often try to seek out as many opinions as possible from stakeholders. For example, in the depths of COVID when my business was on the brink, I reached out to numerous CEOs, commercial landlords, fellow franchisees, public health experts, teachers and clients all trying to wrap my head around the best path forward.

Who is your political consultant? Campaign manager?

Scott Arceneaux. 

Who was the first person to contribute to your campaign? Why did they donate?

My Republican Trump-voting parents. Because they believe in me and have always preached to vote for the person, not the political party.

Who, if anyone, inspires you in state government?

Fentrice Driskell. She’s competent, level headed, and passionate about building a better Florida; she’s an all-around amazing ally for Tampa Bay.

Why do people mistrust elected officials and what are you going to do about it?

Because one party, the Republicans, have it as their world-view that government cannot work. Then, when they defund schools and healthcare, favoritizes corporations over small businesses, and pass budget-busting tax incentives for their friends and the system comes crashing down it only further proves their rhetoric. I want to go, govern responsibly and pass legislation that helps everyday working people and those who are not part of the good-ol-boy networks of power.

What are 3 issues that you’re running on?

A COVID-19 response that meets the moment and gets our economy back on track. An education plan that safely reopens schools and provides the flexibility parents, teachers, and students need. The passing of the Medicaid Expansion so Florida can join with 37 other states in not sending out tax dollars to California and New York but instead make healthcare more affordable for Floridians.

What is a “disruptive” issue you are interested in?

Clean and renewable energy for Florida and tech that changes the way we live, work, travel, and play.

What does your legislative district need from Tallahassee?

Right now? A safe school reopening plan that gives our local school board the freedom to make the right call for Brandon, FL. Further, we need to get our economy back on track which the Republican-led legislature still refuses to hold Session to address.

Who was the best governor in Florida’s modern history?

‘Walkin’ Lawton Chiles.

If you could amend the Florida Constitution, what would you change? 

I have many times at the ballot box, but the Republican legislature just preempts citizen-initiatives and does whatever they want anyways so I really don’t understand the point of this question until we replace them.

Are yard signs an important part of campaigning in your district?

Boy do some people think they are! But no, Republicans put them everywhere because they live in the more rural parts of the district but in the more densely packed Democratec enclaves we just knock on doors and talk to people about the issues they care about.

What’s the first thing you read each morning?

First thing in the morning I actually listen to my news via podcasts while working out on my bike.

Where do you get your political news?

Tampa Bay Times, Florida Politics, and the Five Thirty Eight and NPR politics podcasts.

Social media presence? Twitter handle?

– Facebook:
– Twitter: @AndrewLearned
– Instagram: @Andrew_Learned

In 280 characters, what’s a Tweet that best describes your campaign message?

Navy Veteran and owner of a local tutoring company is running for #FL59 to bring a new generation to #FlaPol. 25+ years of single-party rule in Tallahassee is too much and we need a change and a COVID response that meets the moment. for all the deets!


Cycling and triathlons.

Favorite sport and sports team?

USF Bulls, Rays, and Lightning. Really anything I can get tickets to in Tampa.

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the Florida State Capitol. After a go with the U.S. Army, the Orlando-native attended the University of Central Florida and earned a degree in American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. He'd love to hear from you. You can reach Jason by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.


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