Congressional District 15 candidate and Grand Hampton resident Alan Cohn with his family (l.-r.) wife Patricia, daughter Ann and son Aaron. 

If you’re looking for a political candidate that you can trust to stand up for what is right for you, your family and your neighbor’s family, Alan Cohn says he’s that guy.

The long-time Grand Hampton resident is running for the redrawn U.S. Congressional District (CD) 15, which covers parts of New Tampa and Wesley Chapel, and Cohn thinks the voters’ familiarity with his work as a former investigative reporter with ABC News in Tampa (and Sarasota) shows the kind of member of Congress he would be.

“What people have seen from me, from my work on ABC in Tampa, is a guy who has gone out and uncovered political corruption by both Democrats and Republicans,” Cohn says. “While people are skeptical (of politicians), they find in me a candidate who has called it out on both sides and has worked to make the community a better place already.”

This will be Cohn’s third attempt at winning a Congressional seat. He lost in 2014 to incumbent Republican Dennis Ross (60.3 percent to 39.7 percent) and in 2020 defeated Adam Hattersly in the Democratic primary before losing to Scott Franklin (R-Lakeland) 55.5%-44.6%.

However, the new congressional map for this election shifted CD 15 more towards Cohn’s favor as a Democratic candidate, while Franklin is now running in Florida’ 18th Congressional District. The new map doesn’t change CD 15 from being a Republican-favored seat but it’s closer to a 50-50 split than it was in 2020 and encompasses more of Cohn’s home turf.

“This is not the same Congressional District,” says Cohn, who was the last Democrat to enter the five-candidate field. “I waited for the maps to be final and looked very hard at this District. There’s only about 1,000 voters that separate Democrats and Republicans. This is a swing District.”

According to the Cook Political Report’s 2022 Partisan Voting Index (PVI), it also will be Florida’s closest, with whoever the Republican representative ends up being to be a 4-point favorite. The Republican field includes some well-known names in GOP circles, including former Secretary of State Laurel Lee, Sen. Kelli Stargel and Rep. Jackie Toledo and political newcomers Demetries Grimes and Kevin McGovern.

Cohn is running against four others in the Democratic primary — comedian Eddie Geller, political consultant Gavin Brown, third-generation Army veteran Cesar Ramirez and 30-year postal service veteran Bill VanHorn.

The heart of the new CD 15, Cohn says, is New Tampa, where he and wife Patty have raised their family. Their children, Ann and Aaron, graduated from Wharton High; Aaron is now pitching with Class A Stockton in the Oakland A’s organization.

Not only is Cohn recognizable from his time as a television reporter, but he has been a familiar face around New Tampa and Wesley Chapel.

“This is where we are ingrained in our community,” Cohn says. “Most people have seen me on the ballfields. Patty and I have been so involved with the community. It’s such an incredible opportunity to serve now.”

Upon entering the race, Cohn quickly collected several big endorsements from the likes of former Governor and current gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, former State Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, former Florida Education Commissioner and USF president Betty Castor and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the co-chair of the Florida Congressional Delegation who also is the co-chair of candidate recruitment for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Cohn told he raised more than $100,000 in the first 14 days after filing to run on June 16.

“We have worked in this community and have voted in this community and will win because, in the short time I’ve been in the race, I have raised the resources to reach the voters that we need to reach,” Cohn says.

And, he says, those need-to-reach voters are predominantly independents. According to Cohn, how those with no party affiliation break in their voting, especially in CD 15, could determine the results of the upcoming election.

“That’s really our key,” Cohn says. 

The Primary Election will be held on Tuesday, August 23, and the general Election will be held on Tuesday, November 8.

“We have been working with people who are interested in candidates who do reach across the aisle, who are problem solvers. That’s what I aspire to be,” Cohn says. “The fact of the matter is the last 9-10 months I’ve doing a lot of writing on the national level and here in Florida and calling out both parties when it’s been needed to be done.” 

Cohn has a number of issues he is focused on, such as lowering taxes, fighting against rising prescription drug costs, veterans’ issues, investing in education and much-needed improvements to our transportation infrastructure.

And, he thinks he can get other members of Congress on board as well. Despite the frayed nature of this country’s political discourse these days, where sides are taken based solely on political affiliation, and working with the opposition is frowned upon by the fringes of both parties, Cohn thinks his record shows an ability to reach across the aisle to get things done. And, Congress has to be fixed, he believes.

“If we fail, the country is in danger,” he says.

As one example, Cohn cites his work with District 12 Republican Congressman Gus Bilirakis in 2010, when Cohn exposed companies charging veterans large illegal fees. The law, however, had no teeth, and Bilirakis saw the report and filed a bill to give the law more of a bite, via criminal penalties.

Cohn, a 1985 graduated of Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY, has a won a number of awards for his investigative reporting, most notably the prestigious 2007 Peabody Award for uncovering that defective parts had been installed on U.S. Army Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.

“My record stands apart from anyone else’s,” Cohn says. “If you are a Republican, a Democrat or an independent, you’re frustrated and understandably cynical. And I’m a guy who not only wants to get results but has gotten results. Voters are tired of the nonsense they see on TV and read in the newspapers. I’m the guy who they remember getting solutions to real problems in this community, and I think that stands above anything.”

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