NEWS STORY: Kristen Carlson gets backup from Val Demings, Darren Soto

November 04, 2018

Democratic members of Congress and a national women’s political group began a heavy push toward Election Day for Lakeland attorney Kristen Carlson in her campaign for Florida’s 15th Congressional District.

NEWS STORY: Polls show Democrat Kristen Carlson, Republican Ross Spano in dead heat for Congressional District 15 seat

October 31, 2018

With less than a week until Election Day, one Central Florida congressional district appears to be in play for Democrats in their bid to gain control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Two recent polls found Democrat Kristen Carlson and Republican Ross Spano in a dead heat for the Congressional District 15 seat, and the nonpartisan Cook Political Report shifted the race to a “toss-up” this month.

NEWS STORY: Kristen Carlson rallies voters around Social Security

October 27, 2018

Democratic Congressional candidate Kristen Carlson rallies voters around Medicare and Social Security as part of her increasingly hopeful effort to flip Florida’s 15th Congressional District blue.

“People work hard to earn their Social Security and Medicare benefits and I will strongly oppose any attempts to privatize or cut these vital programs,” said Carlson.

PRESS RELEASE: Kristen Carlson Leads Social Security & Medicare Day of Action in FL-15

October 27, 2018

Carlson and supporters talk to voters about preserving programs


October 26, 2018

Carlson continues to show fundraising strength in first two weeks of October

Lakeland, FL – Today, Kristen Carlson announced that she raised over $400,000 from October 1-17, nearly three times as much as Ross Spano did in the same two-week period. Carlson’s campaign released a poll on Wednesday that was the third poll in a week showing a tied race. Cook Political Report and FiveThirtyEight have classified the race as a “Toss Up.”

NEWS STORY: Kristen Carlson releases internal polling showing tie in CD 15

October 24, 2018

The race to fill the open seat for Florida’s 15th Congressional District remains tied, according to a new internal poll by Democratic nominee Kristen Carlson.

Released Wednesday, the poll was conducted last week by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. It gives both Carlson and Republican state Rep. Ross Spano 47 percent each among likely voters, with just six percent undecided in the district.

The poll is the third recent survey showing the race to replace Republican U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross to be exactly tied, following Survey USA and a New York Times/Upshot polls.

According to the memo prepared by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner and issued by Carlson’s campaign, she is winning solidly among independent voters in all three polls, and also has a significant lead over Spano among women and people of color, following a fairly consistent pattern favoring Democrats in other polls throughout Florida.

PRESS RELEASE: New Poll Shows Tied Race in FL-15

October 24, 2018

Carlson campaign poll is third recent poll showing a tied race

Lakeland, FL – Today, the Kristen Carlson for Congress campaign released a new poll showing the race tied at 47 percent. This is the third poll in the last week showing a tied race; New York Times/Siena College and SurveyUSA polls have shown similar results. Yesterday, Cook Political Report classified the race as a “Toss Up,” just as FiveThirtyEight has as well.

NEWS STORY: Lakeland Democrat Kristen Carlson faces Republican Ross Spano in US House 15 race

October 23, 2018

The last time there was a Democrat in the District 15 Congressional seat Ronald Reagan was entering his second term in office.

Thirty-four years later, some polls show that moderate Democrat Kristen Carlson, of Lakeland, could be the one to turn the seat blue.

“People are sick and tired of hyper-partisan politics,” Carlson said. “Nothing has been achieved in terms of legislation and I can help fix those problems.”

PRESS RELEASE: Cook Political Report Moves FL-15 Race to “Toss Up”

October 23, 2018

Rating change follows increasingly close poll results, showing competitive race

Lakeland, FL – Today, Cook Political Report changed its rating for Florida’s 15th Congressional District to “Toss Up,” moving it in Democrats’ direction from its previous “Lean R” rating. The move follows two polls conducted by the New York Times/Siena College and SurveyUSA last week that showed Democrat Kristen Carlson tied with Republican Ross Spano. Carlson has also raised twice as much money as Spano to date.

NEWS STORY: Ten Rating Changes as Democrats’ Enthusiasm Edge Narrows and Fundraising Advantage Widens

October 23, 2018

FL-15: OPEN (Ross) (R) - Central: Lakeland, Brandon, Plant City

Toss Up. This open seat has flown under the radar most of the year, partly because Rep. Dennis Ross announced his retirement within hours of Speaker Paul Ryan’s. But suddenly Republicans are sounding the alarm. A new New York Times/Siena College poll found Democratic attorney Kristen Carlson and GOP state Rep. Ross Spano tied at 43 percent, and a SurveyUSA poll last week found them tied at 45 percent.

The 15th CD combines moderate Tampa suburbs with highly agricultural, citrus-growing portions of Polk County and it voted for President Trump 53 percent to 43 percent. But Carlson may hold unique appeal with rural voters. In the 1980s, as general counsel to the Florida Department of Citrus, she successfully lobbied the FDA to prosecute out-of-state “orange juice adulterators” who were passing off inferior juice as 100 percent OJ.

Carlson outraised Spano $600,000 to $219,000 between August and the end of September, and is running as experienced prosecutor prepared to work with both parties. GOP strategists complain Spano, regarded as a very conservative legislator, hasn’t raised enough money to define himself in time, and may need a bailout from the Club for Growth, which supported him in the primary. It’s a Toss Up.

NEWS STORY: Kristen Carlson outraising Ross Spano in U.S. House race, polls tight

October 21, 2018

Carlson pulled in $579,017 for a total so far of $905,567, while Spano raised $191,530 for a total $439,952.

Democrat Kristen Carlson expanded her fundraising lead over Republican Ross Spano in the Congressional District 15 race during August and September, as one top analyst forecast the race razor close.

NEWS STORY: These Are The Women Candidates Who May Flip The House In The Midterms

October 19, 2018

FL-15 — Kristen Carlson (D) vs. Ross Spano (R)

Current Representative Dennis Ross is retiring, creating an open race and prime opportunity to flip Florida’s 15th District. The area leans red, but both Democratic candidate Kirsten Carlson and Republican candidate Ross Spano have come out on top of recent polls. Out on the campaign trail, Carlson says she’s seeing desire for change.

“There’s been a lot of enthusiasm not just for me, but for all Democrats on the ticket,” she told Refinery29. “We have more Democrats registered to vote than Republicans. There’s a path to victory just on this basis, but with Andrew Gillum running for governor, he’s added a lot of excitement to the race that I think will affect my vote.”

Spano has served in Florida’s House of Representatives since 2012, and Carlson is making her first political run. Prior, she spent 40 years in law, including 12 years serving as Senior Attorney and General Counsel for the Florida Department of Citrus. Her extensive experience in local agriculture may be her best selling point, positioning her as the candidate who can defend the industry in the wake of Trump’s tariffs.

NEWS STORY: Kristen Carlson doubles Ross Spano in CD 15 fundraising

October 18, 2018

If Lakeland Democrat Kristen Carlson isn’t able to flip Florida’s 15th Congressional District, it won’t be for lack of fundraising.

Carlson’s new campaign finance report, which covers Aug. 9 through Sept. 30, shows more than $584,000 in receipts and about $150,000 in spending. To date, Carlson has raised $905,567 for her congressional bid…Calrson’s opponent, Dover Republican Rep. Ross Spano, showed less than half the fundraising prowess of his opponent in the heretofore deeply Republican Central Florida District.

NEWS STORY: If Florida CD 15 flips, blue wave could be coming

October 17, 2018

If you see Florida CD 15 starting to turn in favor of Democrat Kristen Carlson as election results pour in on Nov. 6, better get out your rain gear because the blue wave could be coming.

Carlson is the underdog against Republican Ross Spano, but three major national outlets —, the Sabato Crystal Ball, and the Cook Political Report — continue to agree that the race is close. They all have it leaning Spano’s way, but not convincingly. For instance, FiveThirtyEight has Spano ahead 51.2 to Carlson’s 48.8 percent.

NEWS STORY: Times recommends: Hunter, Crist, Carlson, Shapiro for U.S. House

October 04, 2018

District 15 - The race for this three-county seat is being viewed as a struggle between powerbrokers in Hillsborough and Polk Counties, home of the two-largest voting blocs. But the real question is who has the vision, experience and core competence to most effectively fill an open congressional seat in a growing and diverse district, which also includes southern Lake County. Kristen Carlson is by far the best choice to fill this vacant seat left by the retiring Republican Dennis Ross.

Carlson, 64, is a Lakeland Democrat with a rich background in government, business and agriculture. A former prosecutor now in private practice, she worked for Florida’s Department of Citrus for many years as a senior attorney and general counsel. Carlson knows agriculture as well as the complex world of trade and regulations. She knows how to hold U.S. trade partners accountable without isolating America in a global trade war.

Ross Spano, 42, is a lawyer who was elected to the Florida House in 2012 and spent six forgettable years in Tallahassee. The Dover Republican is a partisan who regularly politicizes the serious day-to-day challenges this region faces. He offers nothing special for jobs, Social Security or other major concerns.

Carlson’s long history as an advocate for agriculture and as a public servant protecting the community and the economy gives her a solid grounding to take on Washington. She is well familiar with the growing communities of Plant City, Brandon and Temple Terrace. She also would be a guardian for seniors, farmers and working families across the board. Spano would be little more than another Republican enabler for an unpredictable president.

For U.S. House District 15, the Tampa Bay Times recommends Kristen Carlson.

NEWS STORY: Democrat Kristen Carlson commits to $250K ad buy in CD 15

October 03, 2018

Lakeland Democrat Kristen Carlson’s campaign released a quarter million dollar campaign ad Tuesday in her race for Florida’s 15th Congressional District.

Political prognosticators had rated her race against Republican state Rep. Ross Spano of Valrico first as “Likely Republican” and then “Lean Republican.” The Economist magazine released a predictive model showing that it now considers CD 15 a “Toss Up.”

NEWS STORY: Stand up: Kristen Carlson touts prosecutorial record holding special interests accountable

October 02, 2018

Kristen Carlson’s newest ad launched Wednesday called “Stand Up” uses her track record as a lawyer and prosecutor to paint her as the best candidate for Florida’s Congressional District 15 seat.

NEWS STORY: Ross Spano holds slim lead over Kristen Carlson in new CD 15 poll

October 01, 2018

Republican state Rep. Ross Spano and Democratic attorney Kristen Carlson are in a tight race in Florida’s 15th Congressional District, according to a new poll from Bold Blue Campaigns.

Spano’s lead falls well within the poll’s margin of error and continues to show strong Democratic support in the heretofore safe Republican seat.

NEWS STORY: Who’s ahead in the mid-term race?

September 28, 2018

​The Economist’s predictive model for House seats designates FL-15 as a Toss-Up, predicting that Kristen will win in November 51%-49%

NEWS STORY: Roll Call’s At The Races - Our weekly newsletter on congressional campaigns

September 28, 2018

Florida’s 15th District, where Rep. Dennis A. Ross is retiring after four terms, is among a handful of Republican-held seats in the state considered flippable this year. That prospect gained steam earlier this month when internal polling showed Democrat Kristen Carlson essentially tied with Republican Ross Spano in a district Trump carried by 10 points. Shortly afterward, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee put Carlson on its Red to Blue list for top candidates.

NEWS STORY: Ratings Changes: House and Governors

September 25, 2018

— Sabato’s Crystal Ball reports seven House ratings changes, all in favor of Democrats.

Another open GOP seat that appears to be a decent Democratic target is FL-15, a district that covers some of suburban Tampa and also some rural areas. Attorney Kristen Carlson (D), the Democratic nominee, recently released an internal poll showing her effectively tied with state Rep. Ross Spano (R) in another district Trump carried by 10. All caveats about internal polls aside — they often are overly rosy for the side that releases them publicly — this looks like another competitive open seat, so we are moving it from Likely Republican to Leans Republican.

NEWS STORY: POLITICO Race Ratings: GOP grip on House continues to slip

September 21, 2018

7 GOP-held seats move toward Democrats.

Florida-15 (from Solid Republican to Likely Republican): Democrat Kristen Carlson has an internal poll showing her neck-and-neck with GOP nominee Ross Spano. The Republican-oriented district hasn’t come completely online for Democrats, but the DCCC has bought airtime for the final week of the campaign just in case.

NEWS STORY: National Democrats now believe Carlson can beat Spano in race for Ross’ old House seat

September 14, 2018

The national Democratic Party has added the Congressional District 15 seat in Hillsborough, Polk and Lake counties to its “Red to Blue” list of districts where it believes it has a strong chance of taking over a Republican seat.

NEWS STORY: Democratic Poll Shows Tight Race for Ross’ Seat in Florida

September 13, 2018

Democrat Kristen Carlson narrowly led Republican Ross Spano, well within the margin of error, in a poll of Florida’s open 15th District commissioned by her campaign.

Trump carried the 15th District by 10 points in 2016

PRESS RELEASE: Kristen Carlson Leads Rep. Ross Spano in First General Election Polling

September 12, 2018

Lakeland, FL –Today, Kristen Carlson’s campaign announced that initial polling of the 2018 General Election showed Carlson leading Representative Ross Spano by one percent. Notably, Carlson holds a 10 point lead among voters without a party affiliation.

NEWS STORY: Tight down-ballot races may affect Hillsborough voters’ lives more than marquee contests

August 30, 2018

It’s game on for the Nov. 6 general election.

Most of the attention and TV ads will focus on the races for governor and U.S. senator, but critical local races in Hillsborough County will have arguably more impact on voters’ lives. Here’s a look at the most competitive ones:

  • Kristen Carlson vs. Ross Spano in U.S. House District 15. Incumbent Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, had an easy re-election but decided to quit, leaving Democrats an outside shot in this 10-point pro-Trump district encompassing most of East Hillsborough. They’ve recruited a candidate they like — prominent lawyer and Emily’s List-backed Carlson. Carlson works in Tampa and lives in the Polk County side of the district.

NEWS STORY: Tampa Bay matchups for U.S. Congress are set, include several women

August 30, 2018

The ‘Year of the Woman’ could include some surprises

In what is supposed to be the “Year of the Woman,” there are several female candidates running to represent Tampa Bay in the U.S. Congress.

District 15 covers part of Hillsborough and Polk counties, pitting former state representative Republican Ross Spano against Democrat Kristen Carlson in the seat left vacant by Dennis Ross when he retired.

NEWS STORY: Election Update: Republicans Aren’t Too Vulnerable In Florida, Arizona And Oklahoma … Yet

August 30, 2018

Our forecast suggests that many Democratic gains could come in Arizonan, Floridian and Oklahoman districts with little Democratic pedigree. There are eight districts in the three states that the Classic version of our model rates as “lean R” or “likely R” in the average outcome, which means they’d be the first to become toss-ups or Democrat-favored.

  • Florida’s 15th District, based in the I-4 corridor between Orlando and Tampa. It’s an R+13 district, but Republican incumbent Dennis Ross is retiring, and Democratic candidate Kristen Carlson has raised almost double the individual contributions that Republican Ross Spano has.

NEWS STORY: Moderate Democrat Kristen Carlson wins US House 15 primary, defeating progressive Andrew Learned

August 29, 2018

Lakeland Democrat Kristen Carlson, who ran on a bipartisan platform, easily defeated progressive Andrew Learned on Tuesday, setting up a battle for the District 15 congressional seat with Republican Ross Spano.

“Americans are tired of this hyper partisanship,” Carlson said from her Lakeland home. “Americans want to see results in Washington.” The former general counsel for the Department of Citrus praised Learned’s enthusiasm, but said voters wanted someone more experienced.

Carlson spoke about how she wants to continue a positive campaign against Spano. “I’m genuinely a positive person and I want to have a positive message moving forward,” she said.

NEWS STORY: U.S. 15th District: It’s Democrat Carlson, Republican Spano in November

August 29, 2018

Democrat Kristen Carlson bested challengers Andrew Learned and Raymond Pena in all three District 15 counties. “I would like voters to think about what it will mean to this country when we’re able to bring Americans together and reach bipartisan solutions to some of the biggest problems we face, like health care reform, immigration reform, and to realize that we’re all in this together,” she said late Tuesday.

NEWS STORY: Bay News 9: Candidates vying for Florida’s 15th Congressional District seat

August 01, 2018

In Bay News 9’s Exclusive Decision 2018 Congressional poll, 31 percent of voters said they’d vote for Carlson. Candidates Andrew Learned and Ray Pena each had 12 percent.

NEWS STORY: Hitting the ground collecting in CD 15

May 23, 2018

Kristen Carlson of Lakeland entered the Democratic Primary for Florida’s 15th Congressional District just over two weeks ago and has reported campaign donations of more than $100,000 already.

Her staff said most of it came in during the first 13 days.

Carlson, a former General Counsel for the Florida Department of Citrus, current counsel for the Florida Juice Producers Association and lawyer in the Tampa firm of MacFarlane Ferguson & McMullen, didn’t enter the race until May 2, Two days before the deadline to qualify for federal office.

NEWS STORY: Two progressive organizations, but different candidates?

May 21, 2018

Attorney Kristen Carlson of Lakeland opened her campaign May 2 this year, two days before qualifying deadline for federal office adding that she had been encouraged to run by local Democrats and Emily’s List.

NEWS STORY: William March: Another Democrat emerges in race for vacant congressional seat

May 10, 2018

Andrew Learned, who appeared to be carrying the Democratic mantle in the Congressional District 15 race, got a surprise competitor as qualifying ended – MacFarlane Ferguson & McMullen lawyer Kristen Carlson of Lakeland.

Her filing means both parties have primaries with competition between the Polk and Hillsborough sides of the district, which has long been a Lakeland seat but where Hillsborough dominates since the last redistricting.

NEWS STORY: Another Democrat lines up for CD 15 race

May 04, 2018

Lakeland attorney Kristen Carlson has entered the Democratic primary for Florida’s 15th Congressional District.

Carlson, 64, is a former General Counsel for the Florida Department of Citrus and still counsel of record for the Florida Citrus Processors Association and District 1 of the Florida Department of Transportation.