For Immediate Release
October 23, 2018
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.
“We’ve thought our competitive campaign has been flying under the radar for a while now, and today’s rating change proves that the outcome of our race is far from being decided,” said Conor Hurley, campaign manager for Kristen Carlson for Congress. “Ross Spano is a Republican extremist whose far-right stances put families in the district at risk. The close polls show that Kristen’s priorities of protecting access to affordable health care and expanding economic opportunity are resonating with voters. We’re continuing to communicate that message in these final two weeks with our strong grassroots get-out-the-vote operation.”
Cook Political Report, 10/23/18
By David Wasserman
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.