Ex-WFTS-Ch. 28 investigative reporter Alan Cohn to run for Congress
Ask if he’s leaving journalism for good by running for political office and Alan Cohn equivocates, noting that some figures in cable news have moved from politics to punditry and back again.
But Cohn – a former investigative reporter at WFTS-Ch. 28 who has occasionally filed reports for ABC News as a freelancer – eventually admits that in choosing to run against U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross R-Lakeland to represent Florida’s 15th Congressional district, he’s probably going to leave some kinds of journalism behind.
“You can’t do what I’m doing and go back to covering a beat,” said Cohn, 50, who cites his 30-year journalism career as ample education on how politics and public policy operate. “But I would like to do this more than any job I can think of. Everyplace I’ve every worked (as a journalist) has heard me talk about doing this. It’s just the opportunity is now.”
Cohn plans to announce his candidacy Thursday morning at the Embassy Suites hotel on the University of South Florida campus. He said recent redistricting which includes more of Hillsborough County may improve his chances of appealing to a district which once was more solidly Republican.
“We’re all frustrated by the gridlock in Washington,” added Cohn, who said he began contacting Democratic party leaders in November, discussing his interest in running for Ross’ seat. “That’s not who we are and that’s not who I am.”
He made a name as an investigative reporter over three years at WFTS, breaking stories about problems with football players' residential status at state champion Armwood High School and revealing the existence of an undisclosed vacation home owned by the wife of then-Hillsborough County Commissioner Jim Norman.
But WFTS let him go in June 2012 with no public explanation; Cohn said then and now he doesn’t know why they ended his employment months before his contract would expire. He created a company, AMC Productions, which has created promotional videos for the state’s tourism office and Tampa’s Chamber of Commerce.
Now he’s hoping some of the notoriety he gained as a TV reporter will help him unseat a legislator who is a Lakeland native and spent years in Florida’s House of Representatives before heading to Congress.
“The easiest thing for me to have done (after leaving WFTS) would be to pack up the family and move on to the next opportunity in TV news,” said Cohn, who lives in New Tampa with his wife Patricia and two teenage children. “We chose to stay because we love the greater Tampa area and we want to make a difference.”