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A Democrat-leaning congressional district in east Hillsborough County?

At least two former Democratic congressional candidates, Alan Cohn and Adam Hattersley, say they’re considering running again in the new District 15 if it ends up looking like the Senate proposal.
Former television journalist Alan Cohn (left) and State Rep. Adam Hattersley are former Democratic candidates in Florida's 15th Congressional District.
Former television journalist Alan Cohn (left) and State Rep. Adam Hattersley are former Democratic candidates in Florida's 15th Congressional District.
Published Nov. 19

Redistricting maps proposed by the state Senate redistricting committee would create what some political insiders consider a strange phenomenon — a Democratic-leaning, heavily minority district that also includes most of heavily white and Republican east Hillsborough County.

At least two former Democratic congressional candidates, Alan Cohn and Adam Hattersley, say they’re considering running again in the new District 15 if it ends up looking like the Senate proposal. So is Sean Shaw, who ran unsuccessfully in 2018 as the Democratic nominee for Florida attorney general.

Term-limited Republican county Commissioner Stacy White, who friends say has talked of interest in a congressional seat, confirmed he might also take a look.

The current District 15 includes much of east Hillsborough and then goes further east to take in the Lakeland and Clermont areas, producing a strongly Republican-leaning district.

In 2020, Cohn faced Hattersley in a primary there and won, but lost to Lakeland Republican Scott Franklin in the general election.

The Senate’s proposed new District 15 would be entirely in Hillsborough County. It would extend west to take in minority and inner-city areas — East Tampa, Ybor City and Progress Village — plus the university area and New Tampa.

It would go east to the county line, conjoining the urban, minority Tampa areas with rural Republican enclaves including Plant City, Lithia, Thonotosassa and Fort Lonesome.

In 2020, the area covered by the proposed new district voted for Joe Biden 53 percent to 45 percent.

Cohn and Hattersley live in the district, and Shaw said he lives in Seminole Heights five blocks outside it.

Shaw, who’s African-American, could have an advantage in a Democratic primary, according to an analysis by political mapping expert Matt Isbell. About 40 percent of the Democratic voters in the new District 15 would be Black, along with 41 percent white and 11 percent Hispanic voters.

“It’s absolutely possible for an African-American Democrat to win that district,” he said.

But Cohn noted that he has spent heavily and recently on campaign advertising in the area, boosting his name recognition, while Hattersley notes that he formerly represented much of the district in the state House.