Election Coverage: Where they stand on key issues

By Gordon Wayne Watts / Editor-in-Chief and Political editor, The Register – a Conservative publication

Posted Tuesday, 18 August 2020, at 09:27:18 A.M. (EST), last updated at 9:57:17 A.M.,

This race features 5 candidates vying for the District 15 U.S. House seat currently held by incumbent, Rep. Ross Spano (R-FL-15), and The Register, after due diligence, shall report on the results of its recent press inquiry. The candidates, whose outcome will be determined by the Primary Election held today, are as follows, listed alphabetically, and by party: The 3 democrats first, and then the 2 Republicans.

nn Alan Cohn (Democrat), a long-time WFTS-TV (Tampa, Florida) investigative reporter, has won Peabody and Emmy Awards for his investigative reporting. His campaign websites and social media are as follows:

Although he did not respond to my Press Inquiry of this past Friday, he was kind enough to accept my Facebook friend request: https://www.Facebook.com/friendship/GordonWayneWatts/alan.cohn.7583/

Moreover, his website is fairly, if not completely, explanatory regarding his views on key issues. Between his website and my review of local news coverage, here are highlights of Cohn's views:

nn Adam Hattersley (Democrat), a Navy veteran and small business owner, is a current member of the Florida State House of Representatives, has an official website here: https://www.MyFloridaHouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/details.aspx?MemberId=4737&LegislativeTermId=88 He is the first Democrat to hold the Republican-leaning District 59 since it was redrawn in 2012, a seat which – ironically – was held by Ross Spano for 2 consecutive terms from 2016—2020 when he was in the Florida Legislature. His campaign websites and social media are as follows:

Hattersley, likewise, did not respond to my Press Inquiry. Nonetheless, his website is fairly complete on his views on key issues:

nn Jesse Philippe (Democrat), a retired Marine veteran, worked for Florida DCF and is a law school graduate, according to Florida Politics. Source: https://FloridaPolitics.com/archives/334018-meet-jesse-philippe-the-lesser-known-democrat-in-the-primary-for-ross-spanos-congressional-seat and archived here: http://Archive.vn/wip/G9o41 and

here: https://Web.Archive.org/web/20200604115041/https://floridapolitics.com/archives/334018-meet-jesse-philippe-the-lesser-known-democrat-in-the-primary-for-ross-spanos-congressional-seat

His campaign websites are as follows:

Although Philippe, likewise, didn't respond to my press inquiry, he was kind enough to speak to me at length, by phone, when I had trouble finding details on his website about where he stands on issues:

nn Scott Franklin (Republican), a retired Navy veteran (Naval Aviator), who served for 26 years, and local businessman (Managing Partner at Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners), according to his LinkedIn profile: https://www.LinkedIn.com/in/cscottfranklin , is a current member of the Lakeland, Florida City Commission, according to the official city website, here: https://www.LakelandGov.net/government/mayor-city-commission/scott-franklin

His campaign websites are as follows:

Franklin, likewise, did not respond to repeated voicemails, or messages left on his official Facebook page, as documented in this Press Inquiry. Furthermore, Franklin has not, as of this time of publication, responded to my emailed this Press Inquiry, here. Moreover, his official campaign websites do not fully inform this writer as to where he stands on the issues. However, in the interests of fair journalism (as opposed to so-called “Attack Journalism”), we will attempt to be fair, and present his candidacy in the most positive light.

nn Ross Spano (Republican), a small business owner from Dover, Florida, who served 2 consecutive terms from 2016—2020 when in the Florida State Legislature, is the incumbent in this race. Sources: https://Spano.House.gov and https://www.MyFloridaHouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/details.aspx?MemberId=4568 Spano graduated with a J.D., with Honours, from The Florida State University, where he was a member of the FSU Moot Court Team and the FSU Journal of Transnational Law and Policy. Spano was appointed to serve on the following Committees for the 116th Congress: Small Business Committee and Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure.

His campaign websites are as follows:

Like the other 4 candidates, Spano did not respond to my e-mailed Press Inquiry, here. Nonetheless, he has spoken at length with this writer in person on multiple occasions, both in an official capacity (office hours at his office) and at several campaign events. Additionally, his legislative staff have been responsive to my questions on several occasions on key issues.


DEMOCRATS: Of the 3 Democratic candidates, vying to replace Spano, all 3 have impressive credentials: Another fellow news reporter, Alan Cohn, was also an investigative news reporter, like this writer (and on a larger scale), and Adam Hattersley and Jesse Phillipe both served honourably in the military, both having experience as Iraq war veterans. In published news reports, Cohn has made repeated criticisms of Hattersley for slowness in registering as a Democrat: For example, The Times reports that Cohn leveled a criticism “that Hattersley didn’t register as a Democrat until his 2018 state House run, doesn’t support an assault weapons ban and has been endorsed by the conservative Blue Dog Democrats caucus.” Source: https://www.TampaBay.com/florida-politics/buzz/2020/06/19/democrats-dilemma-picking-a-challenger-for-ross-spano archived here: https://Web.Archive.org/web/20200626200710/https://www.TampaBay.com/florida-politics/buzz/2020/06/19/democrats-dilemma-picking-a-challenger-for-ross-spano and here: http://Archive.vn/wip/5bSWM

However, Hattersley, in an apparent defense of that common criticism, was quoted as saying: ““When I was driving that truck in Iraq, I didn’t care if the guy next to me was a Democrat or Republican,” Hattersley told about 50 people who gathered at Talbot House Ministries in Lakeland, a social service agency for the homeless. “That’s why I was never part of a political party until right before I decided to run for the state House.””

Philippe was also quoted in that same article as saying: “Philippe said that contrary to media reports, America isn’t nearly as divided as its portrayed. [] “The average American is not divisive. We believe in the brother next to us. We don’t care if he’s white. We don’t care if he’s Black. The average American believes in people.””

Source: https://www.BayNews9.com/fl/tampa/politics/2020/07/07/adam-hattersley-jesse-philippe-stress-bipartisanship-in-cd-15-dem-forum-in-lakeland archived here: https://Web.Archive.org/web/20200708184243/https://www.baynews9.com/fl/tampa/politics/2020/07/07/adam-hattersley-jesse-philippe-stress-bipartisanship-in-cd-15-dem-forum-in-lakeland and here: http://Archive.vn/uPdl8

All 3 Democratic candidates have many good points, and some bad points. Both Cohn and Hattersley support a minimum wage hike, which The Register (as a Conservative publication) views as inflationary. While we agree that middle-class Americans are “priced out” of a decent living, increases in wages is not as safe as a decrease in the existing debt owed by college students who were charged via illegal price-gouging, and, as the Federal Government owns (not guarantees) most of this debt, it would not cost any taxpayer dollars to forgive part of all of the debt: We've already paid off the loans and bought them. Moreover, this would not only not be inflationary (good), but it would also operate as a “Free Market” check on the excessive lending of our tax dollars that the Department of Education irresponsibly does: In plain English, bankruptcy defense would make the DOE “think twice” before bleeding our economy to death, thus saving Trillions of tax dollars, which could be used for infrastructure or for other needs. (Colleges, which provided free education in many places just decades ago, have no excuse: They're even more able now, as they are awash in alumni contributions, and receive huge amounts from the State and Federal Government.)

Hattersley's comments during his Talbot House visit (“When I was driving that truck in Iraq, I didn’t care if the guy next to me was a Democrat or Republican”) paint him in very positive light—as does the fact that he “flipped” Spano's old State House seat from Republican to Democrat when he defeated Joe Wicker in the general election for Florida House of Representatives District 59 on November 6, 2018, by a 51.5 percent to 48.5 margin.

However, on balance, Phillipe is the most qualified of the 3 Democratic candidates: While he supports abortion (viewed by The Register – a Christian and Conservative publication – as the taking of a life—never justified except in genuine “self-defense,” such as the rare ectopic pregnancy where the child threatens the mother's life and has little chance of surviving: See LUKE 1:41—44, which describes the unborn child as a 'baby', not a 'blob of tissue'), Philippe is the most moderate. Moreover, Philippe served with honour in our military and continues to try and make the world a better place. Lastly, he was very patient with this writer, answering all of his questions. The Register recommends Jesse Philippe for the Democratic Primary being held today.

REPUBLICANS: Of the 2 Republican candidates, vying to win the nomination in this Primary—and then the General Election, in District 15 (which leans somewhat Republican in its voting pattern), both Scott Franklin and Ross Spano have good points and bad points. Franklin served honourably in our military, and moreover, was polite and attentive (even if very quiet) in my three (3) recent visits to the Lakeland Florida City Commission regarding some exceptionally illegal “911-call-blocking,” which this writer had documented as having been done by the Lakeland, Florida Police—when he was a City Commissioner hearing my complaints:

Moreover, Franklin seems to be both “fiscally” and “socially” conservative, respecting both our taxpayer dollars as well as having a respect for life. However, he has repeatedly refused to return any messages –both the old and the recent voicemail messages this writer left—documented in the screenshots linked in the Press Inquiry of this past Friday, as well as my questions on his Facebook page—as well as the e-mailed Press Inquiry, itself. In the business world, insubordination (repeated and willful disobedience to one's superiors and authority) is a termination offense, and in an analogous manner, as a member of the press, The Register sits in appellate review of decisions in “The Court of Public Opinion,” and finds Franklin's behaviour objectionable, even if not necessarily malicious in intent. (This writer notes that he was tardy to personally visit several public events where he might have been able to speak with Franklin, and so in all fairness, perhaps Franklin was likewise busy.) But this writer also texted both candidates and suggested they could ignore the ten (10) ethics questions posed, if they were to must, and focus on the three (3) policy questions in my Press Inquiry of this past Friday. This behaviour does not do any good for the GOP's Republican Party “image” as “rich,” aloof, and detached from the common man.

Lastly, even after repeated inquiries, Franklin didn't even update any of his campian websites to address these issues (which would have been a reasonable response to legitimate press inquiries—if he were too pressed for time to meet with me or return my emails or voice-mail message. In fact, not even a Google search could divine his views on some issues, on which his campaign pages were rather unclear:


Franklin is not all bad (and, in fact, for all his problems, probably more preferable than any of the 3 Democratic candidates). And this writer does not view Spano's policy positions (or failure to even file bills on areas where we, Conservatives, have no disagreements) as “good.”

Moreover, Spano is wrong to oppose Student Loan Bankruptcy, not only because of moral reasons, stated above (and in the Press Inquiry, invoking no less than Jesus' Golden Rule: “Bankruptcy for me, but not for thee” = Hypocrite, and disobedient to Jesus and our shared religion). Lastly, the U.S. Constitution's “Uniformity Clause” (found in Art.I, Section 8, clause 4 of the U.S. Constitution) forbids and strictly prohibits and U.S. Bankruptcy Code except that which is “uniform” (which would make current U.S. Code unconstitutional on this ground alone).

However, Spano has shown a willingness to listen, learn, and act, and the tenor of his communications seem to be with honour, genuine, and honest. The Register recommends Ross Spano for the Republican Primary being held today.

EDITOR'S NOTE: In light of how late this news report is being done (on Election Day, itself), I would note that “better late than never” applies here, and there are no less than three (3) good reasons that these primary analyses can be useful—even now:

The Register – Flagship Mirrors:

The Register is maintained by Gordon Wayne Watts, a non-lawyer, who is best known for his lawsuit on behalf of Terri Schiavo[1], which lost 4-3 in the Florida Supreme Court, arguably doing better than even then Governor Jeb Bush's similar suit[2] (lost: 7-0) or Terri Schiavo's own family's federal case[3] (lost: 2-1). Mr. Watts, who ran unsuccessfully for Dist. 64 Fla. House of Representatives[4], is a part-time political activist while he searches for a full-time job in his field.

Contemporary legal scholars are amazed that Watts, a non-lawyer, could almost win a court case on behalf of Terri Schiavo.

Mr. Watts, of Lakeland, Florida, received a Bachelor's degree from The Florida State University with a double major in Biological and Chemical Sciences with honors and was the valedictorian from United Electronics Institute.

In Re: GORDON WAYNE WATTS (as next friend of THERESA MARIE 'TERRI' SCHIAVO), No. SC03-2420 (Fla. Feb.23, 2005), denied 4-3 on rehearing. (Watts got 42.7% of his panel)https://www.FloridaSupremeCourt.org/clerk/dispositions/2005/2/03-2420reh.pdf
In Re: JEB BUSH, GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA, ET AL. v. MICHAEL SCHIAVO, GUARDIAN: THERESA SCHIAVO, No. SC04-925 (Fla. Oct.21, 2004), denied 7-0 on rehearing. (Bush got 0.0% of his panel before the same court)https://www.FloridaSupremeCourt.org/clerk/dispositions/2004/10/04-925reh.pdf
Schiavo ex rel. Schindler v. Schiavo ex rel. Schiavo, 403 F.3d 1223, 2005 WL 648897 (11th Cir. Mar.23, 2005), denied 2-1 on appeal. (Terri Schiavo's own blood family only got 33.3% of their panel on the Federal Appeals level)https://media.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/pub/files/200511556.pdf
[4] Key Phrase search: 
(Google search for Watts' campaign)and (Yahoo! search for Watts' campaign) - Archived copies of Official Campaign pages: https://GordonWatts.com/Campaign.html and https://GordonWayneWatts.com/Campaign.html

/// last updated on Tuesday, 18 August 2020, at 9:57:17 A.M.