Laurel Lee unrolls endorsements, Alan Cohn demands policy answers ahead of CD 15 debate
Alan Cohn is lagging behind Laurel Lee in CD 15, one of the most competitive seats in 2022.

laurel lee ALAN COHN
The district is the most closely divided in Florida based on voter registration.

As Democrat Alan Cohn and Republican Laurel Lee prepare to debate, both have stepped up messaging. Cohn has attacked positions held by Lee on abortion and Social Security, while Lee has unrolled endorsements from prominent Republicans.

Lee this week announced support from U.S. Rep. Scott Franklin, a Lakeland Republican who, after redistricting, is running for re-election in Florida’s 18th Congressional District. Maggie’s List, a national group supporting conservatives seeking federal office, also endorsed Lee this week.

“We’re thrilled to endorse Laurel Lee in Florida Congressional District 15,” said Maggie’s List Chairman Sandra Mortham, a former Florida Secretary of State. “From serving as a prosecutor, a judge and then Florida’s Secretary of State, it’s clear that Laurel is a strong leader — one that is also a loving mother that is the foundation of a strong, supportive family. This is exactly the type of voice we need in Congress.”

The support from Franklin could be particularly important for Lee, who handily won the Republican nomination but trailed state Sen. Kelli Stargel in the Polk County portion of the district. That’s Franklin’s home area, where he served on the Lakeland City Commission before his election to Congress in 2020, notably against Cohn.

“Having grown up in a military family and serving the state of Florida first as a prosecutor, a judge and then as Secretary of State, Laurel knows the meaning of service,” Franklin said. “In Congress, I am confident that spirit of service will translate into a strong advocate for the communities that make up Congressional District 15.”

Lee embraced support from Franklin and from Maggie’s List, and has stressed the building support from Republican leaders as the Nov. 8 General Election nears.

“Congressman Franklin is resolute in his beliefs and unwavering in his commitment to his district, and I am honored to have his endorsement in my campaign for Congressional District 15,” Lee said after landing the Congressman’s support.

“From his military background to his business acumen, Congressman Franklin knows what it takes to defend our freedom and ensure our future is prosperous; I am thankful for his support.”

But Cohn has repeatedly painted Lee as out of step with the political mainstream as she runs in a district that’s more closely divided between Republicans and Democrats than any other in the state of Florida.

He pounced when the Lee campaign reaffirmed her support of Florida’s new 15-week abortion ban, and has called on the Republican to state clearly if she would support a similar bill filed by South Carolina U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham at the federal level.

“It’s hard to believe that anyone could be so cruel, heartless and inhuman that they would want to deny necessary medical care to young girls who are victims of incest, but that’s exactly where Laurel Lee stands,” Cohn said.

“Extreme politicians like Laurel Lee want Washington bureaucrats in charge of women’s lives, and that’s why Democrats, Republicans, independents and anyone who doesn’t believe in a government takeover of health care needs to stop it this November by voting for candidates who believe in medical freedom. Laurel Lee needs to come out publicly and explain how she can sleep at night knowing the ordeal that these young girls went through thanks to the terrible law that she supports.”

Ahead of the debate, he also made a pledge never to vote for cuts to Social Security, and he called on Lee to take a stance on House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy’s recent threat to hold a debt ceiling vote hostage without cuts to federal spending.

“Congress should be working to strengthen Social Security and Medicare so that people here in Florida who paid into the systems all their lives can count on these benefits when they retire, but instead Laurel Lee’s allies in the Republican Party are talking about slashing these programs and leaving seniors out in the cold,” Cohn said.

“I will never support cutting Social Security and Medicare and I demand that Laurel Lee join me in denouncing this cynical Republican ploy to attack our seniors to serve their radical agenda.”

The two will face one another tonight, Oct. 20, at a Spectrum News/Tampa Bay Times debate at 7 p.m.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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