Alan Cohn

Democrat Alan Cohn of New Tampa is making another run for the Congressional seat that represents most of Lakeland. Cohn, a former TV reporter and news anchor, announced today he is seeking to replace first-term Republican Rep. Ross Spano of Dover.

Cohn’s announcement puts him in contention in next August’s Democratic primary with state Rep. Adam Hattersley of Riverview and Loretta Lax Miller of Clermont.

Cohn, 58, was the Democratic candidate in 2014 against then-U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, a Lakeland Republican. Ross won with 60 percent of the vote. Democrats have marked Spano as vulnerable in next year’s re-election campaign because he’s being investigated for campaign finance irregularities, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Prior to the 2014 campaign, Cohn had been a reporter and anchor at Tampa’s WFTS-Channel 28, an ABC affiliate. Since then, he was anchor and managing editor of a news and talk show on Sarasota ABC affiliate WWSB-Ch. 7.

“I’m running for Congress to hold the powerful accountable,” Cohn said in a news release that also touted an emphasis on lowering health care costs, helping veterans and helping those who are struggling economically.

“I’ve made my living investigating corrupt politicians from Washington, to right here at home,” Cohn said. “I’ve won one of the nation’s highest honors, the George Foster Peabody Award, for uncovering that defective parts were being installed on Blackhawk helicopters flown by our troops.”

Cohn and his wife — Patricia, president of the Hillsborough County Democratic Women’s Club — live in Grand Hampton, a New Tampa community just west of the district boundary, according to the Tampa Bay Times, which quotes Cohn as saying it isn’t unusual for Florida congress members to live just outside their districts.

Until Spano’s election last year, the Congressional district covering most of Lakeland had been represented by a Polk resident since at least 1983. However, redistricting following the 2010 Census stretched District 15 toward Temple Terrace to the west and Clermont to the north, and Polk’s voters no longer command a clear majority.

The district has 171,472 Republicans, 168,642 Democrats and 135,476 no party affiliation voters.

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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