Republican Florida Rep. Ross Spano lost his primary Tuesday night in an upset to Scott Franklin, a city commissioner in Lakeland.
Spano trailed Franklin by 2.6% when the race was called, The New York Times reported, becoming the eighth House incumbent to lose his primary this cycle.
Though Spano had touted endorsements from congressional leadership and the National Rifle Association, he had faced growing criticism over alleged campaign finance violations, which led to a criminal investigation last November, The Tampa Bay Times reported.
The Federal Elections Commission and Office of Congressional Ethics alleged that he borrowed over $180,000 from friends to loan to his campaign, and then lied about where the funds originated, saying that they were his own, according to The Tampa Bay Times reported.
Franklin, who closely aligned himself with President Donald Trump and supported building the border wall, defending the Second Amendment and pro-life policies, said that Spano’s investigation was proof that he was not deserving of serving in Congress. His campaign was also boosted by a high-profile endorsement by Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, the Tampa Bay Times reported. (RELATED: Gaetz: Why I Stopped Taking PAC Money)
Breaking: freshman Rep. Ross Spano (R) loses the #FL15 GOP primary to insurance businessman Scott Franklin (R).
Spano is the 8th (!) member of the House to lose renomination this cycle, about double the modern average.
— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) August 19, 2020
“With Scott Franklin in Washington D.C., Florida’s 15th Congressional District will earn back the trust, respect and integrity the people of Central Florida deserve,” his campaign website said.
Spano, the latest representative to lose their primary, joins Illinois Rep. Dan Lipinski, Iowa Rep. Steve King, Virginia Rep. Denver Riggleman, New York Rep. Eliot Engel, Colorado Rep. Scott Tipton, Kansas Rep. Steve Watkins and Missouri Rep. Lacy Clay.
The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates Florida’s 15th district as “lean Republican.” Franklin is set to face Democratic nominee Alan Cohn, a local television reporter and investigative journalist, on Nov. 3.
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