George Graham

Figuring out Who to Vote for in Congressional Election isn’t Hard

I got an email from a group called this morning asking me to suggest someone to run against our Republican congressman, a local lawyer named Dennis Ross. So I  went to the web to see if I could find a progressive who might appeal to

To my surprise, I found that a Tampa Democrat had announced his candidacy for our district (District 15 on the map above). Obviously, the guy has not been getting a lot of publicity as I had never heard of him. But at least he isn’t Dennis Ross.

Ross has towed the Republican line in Congress, voting for such disastrous blunders as the recent government shutdown, and he stands for everything I’m against. I wouldn’t vote for him if his only opponent was one of the possums that live in the churchyard next door.

Ross is a longtime local politician. He is 44 years old and has a wife named Cindy who does volunteer work for local schools and other causes. They have two sons, Shane and Travis.

Prior to his political career, Ross worked for the Walt Disney World legal department, defending the company against workers-compensation claims. Before that, he belonged to a (very) prominent local law firm.

He was unopposed the last time around. The Democratic Party is next to non-existent in our county, and nominated nobody to run against him.

With redistricting in 2012, our district now wanders over the northern parts of both Hillsborough and Polk counties. It includes parts of suburban Tampa (including Temple Terrace and the University of South Florida), in addition to the cities of Brandon, Plant City and Lakeland (where Sandra and I live).

I doubt the new district meets the standards set by the anti-gerrymandering amendments that voters approved a couple of years back. But this is Florida. I don’t know what happened to those amendments. I think they’re tied up in the courts by the Republican legal machine.

Anyway, with redistricting, residents in our part of Polk County get to vote with our “neighbors” more than 30 miles away, not with other county folks.

That’s why we will get to vote for a Democrat this time.

The Democrat in question is Alan Cohn, a former investigative reporter for Action News on the ABC station in Tampa. And, no, he is not the famous “inspirational” author or the famous actor, director and producer.

Who is he? All I could find out – apart from the TV investigative reporter gig – is that he is married with two kids and lives in New Tampa.

The only substantial report I came across was in “Creative Loafing,” and that didn’t tell me much.

Cohn’s platform is equally fuzzy. Here’s what he says on his official site:

We may be Democrats, Republicans, or Independents, but we are all Americans. Right now we are all tired and frustrated with a Congress and Congressmen incapable of taking action on any of the serious problems facing our nation.

I will represent those who don’t believe their voices are being heard in Congress. Those who want Congress to act when action is what’s needed. I will be a vote against blind partisanship and for working with people from both parties because neither party has a monopoly on good ideas.

I don’t think that’s going to impress It certainly does not impress me. I want someone with conviction, someone who will stand for the ideals I believe in, not someone who wants to play nice with those awful Republicans. 

But, if the only choice I have is this guy or Dennis Ross, I guess he will get my vote next November.

Click for the Creative Loafing report.

Click for a video of Alan Cohn.

Click more for the 2014 race in Florida.

Click for the nationwide picture.

Click to suggest a candidate.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for