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National Democrats target Ross Spano, Vern Buchanan for ‘retirement’ in 2020

The Tampa Bay area representatives are among 18 Republicans that will get special attention in the next election.
Published Feb. 19, 2019

Fresh off a midterm election where they won 40 Congressional seats, Democrats are plotting where they can pad their majority in the House of Representatives. And they’re eyeing two districts in Florida.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee named U.S. Reps. Ross Spano of Dover and Vern Buchanan of Sarasota to its “2020 Retirement Watch List." The list includes 18 Republicans in competitive districts that the DCCC says may want to reconsider running for re-election.

RELATED: Ross Spano, facing investigation into 2018 campaign, files for re-election in 2020

So where exactly did Ross Spano get more than $100,000 in his bid for Congress?

Will Ross Spano face an investigation into campaign loans before he even gets to Congress?

Here’s a short history of Ross Spano’s campaign spending

Ross Spano goes to Washington … under a cloud of controversy

It’s a tongue-in-cheek suggestion, albeit, one that is grounded somewhat in reality. More than 30 Republicans in the House and Senate retired ahead of the 2018 election, an astounding number. Those retirements foreshadowed the blue “wave” election that gave Democrats control of the House.

“Whether it’s waking up each morning to read the president’s tweets that they’ll be answering for or slowly coming to the realization that they aren’t in control any more, we expect to see a steady stream of frustrated Washington Republicans heading for the exits,” said Mike Gwin, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman. “Retirements played a major role as Democrats won back the House last year and, in 2020, we expect Republican retirements to aid our effort to expand the Democratic House Majority.”

Of the 16 people on the DCCC’s 2018 retirement list, six remain in Congress.

The wave, though, didn’t crash into Florida shores as hard as it did elsewhere. Republicans here maintained control of the governorship and flipped a Senate seat in races that ended in recounts, while Democrats made modest gains in the GOP-controlled Legislature and netted two Congressional seats.

Both Spano and Buchanan coasted to victory. Both districts have grown more competitive with each passing election.

Buchanan won his district — which spans Sarasota, Manatee and south Hillsborough counties — by 23 points in 2014. He defeated David Shapiro 54.6 percent to 45.4 last November.

Meanwhile, Spano topped Democrat Kristen Carlson, 53 percent to 47 in District 15 in eastern Hillsborough, Polk and Lake counties. Just two years prior, Republican Dennis Ross won that seat by 15 percentage points.

It’s no surprise Democrats have targeted Spano in 2020. The former state lawmaker joined the 116th Congress under the dark cloud of scandal for $180,000 in potentially illegal campaign contributions he received from two friends during his campaign. Spano acknowledged his campaign erred, and he could face multiple investigations.


  1. The Republican National Committee sent out this mailer to a Florida resident in Tallahassee that claims to be a 2020 Congressional District Census. Democrats say the mailer is deceptive, as it's coming just before the official U.S. Census.
  2. In this Feb. 14, 2018, photo, students hold their hands in the air as they are evacuated by police from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland after a shooter opened fire on the campus.
  3. Julia Nesheiwat, Florida's first chief resilience officer, will leave her post after six months on the job. She has been hired as a homeland security advisor for President Donald Trump.
  4. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
  5. Florida House Speaker Jose Oliva, R- Miami Lakes and Florida Senate President Bill Galvano, R- Bradenton, talk during a joint session of the Florida Legislature, Tuesday, January 14, 2020, in Tallahassee.
  6. Amy Weintraub with Progress Florida (center), stands with other women during a press conference to speak out against HB 265, which would require minors to gain consent from their parents to get an abortion, in front of Florida Representative Jackie Toledo on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020 in Tampa.
  7. State Rep. Anthony Sabatini fields questions on the House floor on Feb. 19, 2020, about his proposal to ask voters to limit school board member terms.
  8. From left, Democratic presidential candidates, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC.
  9. From left, Democratic presidential candidates, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/John Locher)
  10. Tiffany Carr — shown during a 2004 visit to a Hollywood nail salon — is the former head of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
  11. Some have noted the similarities between President Donald Trump and presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, even if they're in two different political parties.
  12. A pair of wood storks, left, and a large group of white ibis rest and feed in a wetland area off Loop Road in the Big Cypress National Preserve. Florida is home to more wetlands than any other state except Alaska. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times (2008)]