Rep. Ross Spano Loses Primary to Gaetz-Backed Challenger

August 19, 2020 Updated: August 20, 2020

Rep. Ross Spano (R-Fla.) this week became the eighth member of the House of Representatives to lose in a primary this year.

Spano, 54, will serve just one term in the House after being defeated by Scott Franklin, a Lakeland city commissioner.

Voting tallies showed Franklin earning 51.2 percent of the vote, or about 1,500 more votes than Spano. Franklin’s huge lead in Polk County delivered him the win, despite Spano taking Hillsborough and Lake counties.

Franklin now faces Alan Cohn, a former reporter who won the Democrat nomination, for the 15th Congressional District seat.

“Tonight is a win for Florida’s 15th Congressional District,” Franklin told family and friends after receiving the nomination, his campaign told The Epoch Times.

“The voters have made clear that they want someone they can trust to get the job done in Washington. They want someone who will defend our freedoms and our family values. They want someone who will fight back against the socialist liberals like Nancy Pelosi and AOC. They want someone will stand shoulder to shoulder with President Trump,” he added, referring to the House speaker and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

Franklin was backed by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), a well-known ally of President Donald Trump. Spano received support from House Republican leadership.

Franklin and Spano both tried to position themselves as the one who would better support Trump.

A veteran, Franklin says on his campaign website that his priorities if elected would be fighting socialism, advancing Trump’s agenda, and standing up for Christian values.

Cohn in a statement said his campaign is ready to take on Franklin, who he painted as an “out-of-touch millionaire who doesn’t understand the lives of working people and their everyday challenges.”

Elsewhere in Florida, activist Laura Loomer, also backed by Gaetz, earned the Republican nomination for Florida’s 21st Congressional District, while Air Force veteran Anna Luna, another political newcomer, won in the GOP primary for the 13th Congressional District.

They’ll both face Democrat incumbents: Reps. Lois Frankel and Charlie Crist.

Apart from Spano, all incumbents running for reelection appeared to win their primaries in America’s third most populous state.

Victors from crowded Democrat primaries included Clint Curtis, an attorney, and Cindy Banyai, a small business owner.

Curtis will face Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) for the seat representing Florida’s 6th District. Banyai will face Byron Donalds, a state representative, for the seat representing Florida’s 19th District. That race is for an open seat due to the retirement of Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.).

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber