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4 political newcomers look to unseat Scott Franklin in GOP primary – The Ledger

LAKELAND — U.S. Rep. Scott Franklin, R-Lakeland, will face four newcomers to national politics in the Republican primary for U.S. House Florida District 18.
Franklin’s opponents in the Aug. 23 primary are Kenneth “Kenny” Hartpence, Jennifer Raybon, Wendy Schmeling and Eduardo “Eddie” Tarazona.
The Florida Division of Elections website lists two additional candidates: Keith Hayden Jr., who has no party affiliation, and a write-in candidate, Leonard Serratore. The winner of the Republican primary will likely go on to represent the 18th district in Congress.
The newly drawn District 18 stretches from northern Polk County to the Lake Okeechobee region. It’s northern border runs along Marcum Road and Old Polk City Road in Lakeland. Farther east, the district extends north of I-4 in a small segment near Polk City. Nearly all of Polk County is in District 18, with the exception of an area in North Lakeland taken by District 11; an area west of U.S. 98/Florida Avenue in Lakeland that’s part of District 15; and small pockets east of Haines City and along the northeastern Polk border that are part of District 9.
Franklin currently represents District 15, which until this year’s redistricting covered northern Polk County, including most of Lakeland along with eastern Hillsborough County and southern Lake County.
Here is a look at the candidates for District 18 in alphabetical order, based on phone interviews with the candidates:
Franklin, 57, wants to be re-elected. But he wants his constituents to understand that other Republicans need to be elected, too, if he’s going to stand a chance at making a difference.
“There’s a lot of work to do. And I’ve learned very quickly as a Republican in the minority that if you don’t have 218 votes, you might as well not have any at all,” Franklin said. “There’s a lot we can complain about and we try to take our minor victories where we can, but we really need to regain the majority in November if we’re going to affect change.”
Franklin was first elected to Congress in 2020. He previously served as a Lakeland city commissioner. He and his wife Amy have three adult children.
Franklin said he ran the first time because he was concerned the country was in danger. He was alarmed by rhetoric emerging from a “small but very loud group from the left” and the “tremendous amount of spending” in Washington.
But things have only gotten worse since he was sworn in, Franklin said.
“I’m very concerned with the policies that have been enacted in these last 18 months of the Biden administration,” Franklin said. “I want an opportunity to be part of a Republican majority that’s going to stop that and hopefully set the course back in the right direction.”
If re-elected, Franklin would want to first focus on tackling rising levels of inflation, which he said is a “self-inflicted” error. 
“Effectively, Americans have lost an entire month’s worth of salary just eaten up in inflation over the past year,” Franklin said. “So we’ve gotta do things to rein in our spending and get that inflation back under control.” 
Franklin also wants to re-establish energy independence. All of the candidates in the district slammed President Joe Biden’s decision to reject issuing a permit for the controversial Keystone XL crude oil pipeline, a decision on his first day in office that halted the project. The candidates all linked Biden’s decision to today’s rising gas prices.
Franklin said he has concerns about national security, especially when it comes to the southern border. He said he has witnessed “chaos” and “mayhem” that stems from a refusal to enforce existing laws. 
Franklin added that Congress cannot pursue meaningful immigration reform until the border is secure.
“This is not about a question of whether you think immigration is right or wrong. I mean clearly, we’re a nation founded on immigration and almost all of us came here from somewhere else,” Franklin said. “But the fact that we’re not enforcing the rule of law now is enticing people to come across the border at ever-increasing numbers every single month.”
Beyond the border, Franklin wants to rebuild national defense. Franklin served in the U.S. Navy and said he’s watched the military decline in the decades since he left the service. He’s particularly concerned about the vulnerability the country is in when it comes to threats from China.
And national defense is also where Franklin says he’s affected the biggest change thus far as a member of the Armed Services Committee. He’s proud of his hand in passing the National Defense Authorization Act. Franklin said it’s “far and away” the biggest piece of legislation passed each year and because of its record of passage, other committees will add things into the bill they want to see sail through. 
On the subject of abortion, Franklin said he thinks the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and return decisions regarding abortion to the states was the right one. He was less clear on a position concerning a potential law for a nationwide ban on abortion, a move that has been called for by prominent Republicans such as Former Vice President Mike Pence. 
“I wouldn’t want to hypothesize. I’d have to know what was in, what was in it,” Franklin said. “Once you start talking one way or the other, if you’re talking absolutes of absolutely always allow abortion or absolutely never allow it, you know, things start to break down quickly along different lines.” 
In case you missed it: 
Franklin, who says he is pro-life, personally supports abortion access in the cases of rape, incest or to protect the life of the mother.
When it comes to gun control, Franklin said there are already “pretty serious” gun control measures that the country should be enforcing before exploring new laws. He said for most mass shootings, the perpetrator should have been known to law enforcement, but there was a “breakdown” in the system. 
“These tragedies are a scourge, they’re a stain on our society. It’s horrible that we continue to see this happen in community after community and then with very rare exceptions, we see the warning signs were there, there were laws that were not enforced that should have been,” Franklin said. “I’m a very strong believer in enforcing the laws we have before we go looking to put more on the books.” 
Franklin doesn’t have much unique legislation under his belt, which he attributed to being in the minority and not having the votes. But he has other things he considers victories. 
For example, Franklin led a letter co-signed by over 170 of his colleagues pushing back against the establishment of the Disinformation Governance Board, which Franklin refers to as the “Ministry of Truth” from George Orwell’s “1984.” The board was killed just weeks after it was announced.
Franklin also referenced his and other Congress members’ opposition to a consideration by the Biden administration to remove Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from the terrorist blacklist in an effort to restore the Iran nuclear deal. Biden decided in May to keep the IRGC on the list, a decision Franklin credited to public pressure.
“Those are the kinds of things that we do,” Franklin said. “Again, we have so many great ideas for things we want to be able to do legislatively, but without 218 votes in the House, it’s just not going to go anywhere.” 
Franklin said there’s historical precedent for a Republican-led legislative branch working with a Democrat-led executive branch to produce a balanced budget, which is what he hopes happens after the midterms.
Since taking office, Franklin has faced some controversies. Last year, Franklin joined 121 Republicans in voting not to certify the election results for Arizona and 138 Republicans in voting to reject the results from Pennsylvania amid unsubstantiated claims from President Donald Trump and his allies that the election had been stolen.
The votes led some of Franklin’s constituents to say he had sided with Jan. 6 insurrectionists. But in an interview with The Ledger last July, Franklin said that Arizona and Pennsylvania had revisited voting procedures in response to COVID-19. After consulting with fellow Republicans with expertise in constitutional law, Franklin determined that election officials in those states had made changes to voting procedures only the legislatures could make. He added that he wasn’t asserting election fraud occurred in either state.
When asked about whether he considers the results of the 2020 election legitimate for this story, Franklin said that wasn’t a “reasonable question.”
“I don’t boil anything down to a yes or no question,” Franklin said. “There’s nothing more essential to the functioning of our democracy than for our people to have faith in our elections.”
Franklin stands behind his decision to reject certification in Arizona and Pennsylvania. He said unelected people had changed election procedures that were not in accordance with laws set forth by state legislatures.
“My only angle at this as a member of Congress reviewing the certification to me it’s like, I don’t really care who they put forth on the slate. Were those names, were the people elected or presented done in accordance with the election laws as prescribed by the state legislatures? And they weren’t, in some cases,” Franklin sad. “What that resulted in, I don’t know. I certainly can’t prove it and I don’t think anybody ever could. But what I do know is it created a tremendous amount of uncertainty in the veracity of those results and I think that begs the question, I think that’s worth looking at.”
According to, Franklin has been endorsed by Sheriff Grady Judd and sheriffs in Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hendry, Hardee and Highlands counties.
Hartpence, 30, is the youngest candidate vying to represent residents of the 18th district. He lives in Auburndale and is unmarried with no children. 
Hartpence said that at the moment he’s “strictly campaigning.” While he owns a law search engine, he is not involved in the day-to-day operations. He also previously worked at a law firm. 
“I’m running because I’m genuinely tired of seeing good, ordinary, hardworking people be taken advantage of,” Hartpence said. “And I said … ‘How could I get up every single day and help the most amount of people and do the most good?’ And that was how I landed on running for the U.S. House.” 
Hartpence said a primary issue that pushed him to run was the economy and how it had previously been handled by representatives for his district. 
“I didn’t come from money. And I was very lucky, very fortunate in business to have made some, and I know what it’s like to be very poor and I know what it’s like to be somewhat comfortable,” Hartpence said. “And I just want to make sure that I can help, to bring the bar within reach. I don’t ever believe in a handout, I think that’s wrong. But I believe in a help up and making sure the bar is accessible to people.” 
To address the economy, Hartpence wants to increase domestic energy production, fix inflation and lower taxes.
He also wants to boost the Florida citrus industry, which he plans to do by working with the governor and state legislature to develop and market agricultural antibiotics that work to reverse greening. He said those antibiotics are currently illegal to use.
Like other national candidates inspired by the Trump presidency and his Make America Great Again movement, one of Hartpence’s key platforms is “taking the country back.” 
When asked to expand on that notion, Hartpence said he believes the First and Second Amendments are “under attack.” He added that he believes that elections over the past couple of years have not been handled “fairly.” 
Hartpence confirmed that he believes the 2020 presidential election was stolen. There has been no credible evidence produced of widespread voter fraud and courts have repeatedly rejected Trump’s claims that voting irregularities affected the outcome of the election and cost him the presidency. 
In terms of voters trusting an election that could award him a job in Congress, Hartpence said that Gov. Ron DeSantis has implemented a lot of “strong legislation” that prevents the state’s elections from being illegitimate. 
Hartpence said America does not have “sufficient national borders.” His campaign materials state he wants an “America first” immigration policy put in place, which would entail building and staffing a border wall and returning to the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy, which sent some migrants seeking asylum to Mexico to await immigration court proceedings. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that Biden could end the policy. 
“I love legal immigration. I think that if you want to immigrate here legally, you should absolutely do so and I will welcome you with open arms. Just because you have a wall doesn’t mean you don’t have a door in it that says ‘Please come in, please come this way’,” Hartpence said. “It costs a lot of money to house and feed these people. It is better and safer for them to come the legal way.” 
Hartpence said that included in the phrase “taking our country back” is the notion that he would defend traditional family values, which he said are “under attack quite heavily.” Hartpence said the values of “straight, white families” are being threatened, especially in schools.
“Luckily, I mean the state of Florida has done a lot of work to, to make sure that kids aren’t exposed to a lot from a young age, not exposed to a lot of sexual education from such a young age,” Hartpence said. “I think they need to be focused on reading, writing, arithmetic and making sure they have friends and [are] learning the basic social skills they need to function throughout life. And that they shouldn’t be focusing on things like LGBTQ agendas.”
Hartpence supported the effort by County Citizens Defending Freedom to attempt to pull 16 books from shelves at Polk public schools, which the organization called “pornographic.” Titles included “Two Boys Kissing” by David Leviathan, “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini and “Beloved” by Toni Morrison. Hartpence signed petitions to have those books removed and said they were “wholly inappropriate.”
Regarding issues on a more national scale, Hartpence does not support any gun control laws. He said the country has a parenting issue, not a guns issue.
“I think it has a lot to do with social media nowadays, that kids are getting the idea that life is cheap and that if they do something, they’ll be famous for it,” Hartpence said. “I have tons of guns right now in my office as we’re speaking and none of them are in any danger of committing a school shooting.” 
Hartpence does not support arming teachers with guns to prevent or stop school shootings but does support school resource officers and preventative measures such as metal detectors. 
Hartpence considers himself pro-life but does not support a nationwide ban on abortion. 
“This is a states’ rights issue. It should never have gone to the federal government, and I honestly believe it’s better for women as a whole and people as a whole of the United States that it stays out of the federal government,” Hartpence said. “The abortion conversation has no business being talked about in the United States Congress.” 
By the way: Polk parents will need to grant permission for students to read 16 challenged books
More: Polk County book review panel votes to return ‘More Happy Than Not’ to school library shelves
If elected, Raybon has a major target in Congress: deficit spending. 
“We get people in Congress who literally, they’re not fiscally sound,” Raybon said. “You have bills that come across your desk that you say ‘Well, this is a good thing.’ But it’s not just whether or not it’s a good thing, it’s ‘Can we afford it?’ 
“And I’m saying that we can’t afford the level of spending that’s going on in Washington. No house, no business can possibly continue to exist running at deficit spending the way that they’re doing it.” 
Raybon, 54, is a lawyer who owns and operates The Advocate Legal PLLC, which is based in Orlando. If elected, she said she would likely close the firm but would definitely no longer be involved. 
Raybon is unmarried and grew up in Osceola County. She has an adult son who lives in Nashville and a 4-month-old grandchild.
The vision of Raybon’s campaign is to return American society to pre-COVID days. She said America could be even better than its early 2020 state if “we vote out the people who totally drove this country into the ground the last two years, we go back to fiscal responsibility where we’re not deficit spending, if we go back to energy independence, if we go back to leadership in Washington where they’re not threatening to shut down people’s businesses, threatening to quarantine people.” 
Raybon’s top three priorities are government transparency and integrity, election integrity and improving the economic forecast.
“The economic issues are what is having the most profound and acute impact on the Florida voters and in my district, District 18, we have a lot of retired people on fixed incomes,” Raybon said. “I often ask people, ‘Are you better off now than you were two years ago?’ And I haven’t met anybody who’s said yes yet, other than perhaps pharmaceutical companies and maybe the oil companies.”
Raybon directly challenged incumbent Franklin’s performance in Congress, calling into question his integrity and railing against his approval of spending bills.
“I do believe that I am a more conservative Republican than he is,” Raybon said. “I don’t believe in the massive deficit spending. I don’t believe in signing bills before you’ve had a chance to read them.”
Raybon also took issue with what she perceives as silence on Franklin’s part concerning election integrity. 
Raybon said there was a number of “irregularities” in the 2020 election that need to be addressed so voters feel confident in casting their say at the ballot box. 
“I think there is a substantial amount of evidence of irregularities in our voting process,” Raybon said. “Now, if you’re asking me whether or not that is enough to change the outcome of the election, I don’t know the answer to that.”
On her website, Raybon declares she wants to end human trafficking. She said to do that, the country should secure the border, monitor who is going in and out and stick to immigration laws on the books. Raybon said she is “all for” legal immigration. 
Raybon’s website also named an individual and medical right to privacy as one of her primary concerns. When asked about abortion, Raybon said she is personally pro-life and thinks Roe v. Wade, the court decision that protected a women’s right to an abortion until it was overturned last month, was bad law. But she doesn’t think the federal government should have any say in abortion and said a nationwide ban would be unconstitutional. 
Raybon said she supports abortions in the case of preserving the life of the mother. When asked whether she would personally support an abortion in the case of rape or incest, she said that should be up to the states. She does not support laws that restrict the movement of women across state lines to access abortion in states that allow the procedure. 
Gun control laws should also be left to the states, Raybon said. She said background checks and waiting periods are reasonable but should only be implemented by state governments, not Congress. 
And she is for training teachers to use firearms in the case of school shootings. 
“The biggest deterrent to people entering a school is knowing that the faculty is armed and that there are law enforcement [officers] on campus,” Raybon said. “I absolutely think we need to do a better job securing our schools for our children.” 
If elected, Raybon would be interested in taking on a popular target of conservative ire: Twitter. She said she would want to look into social media sites and determine whether they could be considered a public square to figure out what laws are available to regulate those sites and ensure people aren’t being “singled out” and “shut down.” 
“You have a lot of people who are afraid to talk in the public square because YouTube is canceling their videos, Facebook is shutting down their accounts, Instagram is shutting down their accounts,” Raybon said. “As a free society, we need to encourage discourse on issues that we all disagree on. I mean, that’s how we grow.” 
Raybon has been endorsed by the Florida Republican Assembly and the Patriots for Freedom Pac.
Schmeling, a social studies teacher who has spent more than 20 years in the school system, has a simple slogan reminiscent of 2016: “Make Education Great Again.” 
The pro-Trump marketing matches Schmeling’s ambitions. In an interview with County Citizens Defending Freedom for Liberty USA posted to her campaign website, Schmeling said she admires representatives Lauren Boebert, Kat Cammack, Marjorie Taylor-Greene and Jim Jordan and would aspire to be like them if elected. 
Schmeling, 46, has lived in New York and South Carolina but currently resides in Davenport. Last year, she taught at Lake Marion Creek Middle School but will teach this fall at Dr. NE Roberts Elementary School in North Lakeland. Schmeling is an ordained minister and is unmarried with no children.
Schmeling says she teaches “fair and balanced” and does not share her personal beliefs with students. But the Polk County school year starts before the Republican primary, meaning Schmeling will be actively campaigning while a teacher. 
Schmeling’s campaign relies on language associated with the Make America Great Again movement and messaging from the right on defeating left-wing “wokeness.” She said she has witnessed first-hand the “indoctrination” of children in the school system.
“I am kind of the black sheep among teachers because I teach civics and history as it really occurred, not how the left likes to rewrite things,” Schmeling said. “I’ve been canceled by woke principals and suffered in school as a true teacher for teaching America’s truth and true history.” 
Schmeling said she’s a teacher that wants to fix the education system, starting with abolishing the federal Department of Education. She also wants to “trim the fat” among school boards, which she said are too “top heavy” with tax dollars. 
Schmeling said she hates Critical Race Theory, which is a college-level approach that explores how racism has influenced American history and government. The advanced theory is banned in Florida and is not taught in any of the school districts covered by the 18th Congressional district. 
Schmeling said despite DeSantis’ banning the practice, she’s seen “rogue teachers” engage with Critical Race Theory. When asked to provide an example, Schmeling referred to a fellow teacher incorporating the biography of Colin Kaepernick, the football quarterback and civil rights activist known best for taking a knee during the National Anthem, into her teaching.
“[The biography] is nowhere in our standards, nowhere. It’s not a standard at all,” Schmeling said. “And our department chair — she mentioned this at a department meeting — and our department chair did not correct her or say a thing to her.” 
Schmeling is also concerned about the amount of students she said cannot read or write at grade level as high school seniors.
To close reading gaps, Schmeling wants to boost pre-school reading programs, including some that may partner with daycares. She also wants to see certain programs reinstituted or emphasized in the school system, such as teaching cursive, phonics, Latin and classic literature. Schmeling also encourages the development of more centrally located trade schools. 
“Not every student is going to go to college, and that’s okay,” Schmeling said.
Schmeling may want more reading in school, but not of all books. When asked about the CCDF’s move to pull books from Polk public school libraries, Schmeling said she supports the banning of books that are graphic or pornographic. For other books that may not be age appropriate, she supports having a system where parents have to give permission for students to check the books out, which is the solution the district is going with.
Schmeling said as a teacher, she doesn’t feel comfortable teaching students about sex and thinks male and female students should be separated for health class. 
“We should not be teaching about things that really are not the place of the public school,” Schmeling said. “We have to remember, we have to protect our children because not everything out there is good for them. It’s like, do you take your child to a strip club and let them watch a stripper dance? No, because that’s not good for your child.” 
Schmeling considers herself an “America first” candidate. She said her platform consists of the three “E’s”: education, energy and election integrity. 
Like her fellow candidates, Schmeling decried the closing of the Keystone XL pipeline. She wants to reopen the pipeline and “drill, baby, drill” as soon as possible. Schmeling also wants to ban the use of executive orders.
When it comes to election integrity, Schmeling relies on perceived lessons of the past.
“I do not think the results of the 2020 election were legitimate,” Schmeling said. 
As evidence, Schmeling pointed to the pro-Trump film “2,000 Mules” that makes unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud. The film was produced by far-right figure Dinesh D’Souza. 
Moving forward, Schmeling wants to stick to paper ballots and reserve mail-in voting only for those who “literally” can’t get to a polling location.
When it comes to the national hot topic of preventing school mass shootings, Schmeling has a different idea than her competitors: a veteran protection program. Schmeling wants to put veterans in schools to respond to shootings, saying it will give purpose to veterans battling PTSD and depression. Schmeling’s father was a Marine. 
“They will run to danger, they will run to the bullets, they will put their own life on the line to save someone,” Schmeling said. “If they’re actively doing something where they feel their sense of value, that’s going to be a win for them.” 
Schmeling says she is pro-life. She said while she would not hinder a woman’s choice when it comes to children conceived by rape or incest, she thinks those cases make up a small amount of abortions performed and that the issue has been “over sensationalized.” She also thinks some women use abortion as a form of birth control.
Schmeling does not support a nationwide ban on abortion, which she said would be unconstitutional. Instead, she suggested that states should be directed, “by order of the 9th and 10th amendment,” to hold a vote on a certain day to determine abortion access.
“Because abortion is nowhere in the Constitution, just like education is not in the Constitution, they’re both states’ rights issues. So they have to go back to the states,” Schmeling said. 
If elected, Schmeling doesn’t want to serve in perpetuity. She supports term limits for members of Congress and wants to get rid of “career politicians.” 
Eddie Tarazona 
Tarazona, 47, didn’t move to Polk County until about six years ago. His upbringing in South Florida had a huge influence on his politics today.
“‘You’re Hispanic, you grew up in poverty, inner-city Miami, why are you a Republican?’ Well truth be told, it’s more so why am I a conservative,” Tarazona said. “You work hard. You go out there. You do for you. I always heard promises from politicians but the conservative point of view for me made more sense. I go out there, I make my own, and please let me keep as much as possible. It just, it seemed right to me.” 
Tarazona followed his conservative values to a college education at Liberty University. 
Tarazona is married with a 2-year-old son. He has another son from a previous marriage: Logan Thomas, who plays football for the Washington Commanders. Tarazona owns and operates Tarazona Cigars, which he founded about 20 years ago, and lives in Mulberry. 
Although he has no political experience, Tarazona doesn’t think that should hold him or any candidate back. 
“I’ve been asked by a lot of people, ‘What experience do you have?’ I wasn’t under the impression that any American needed to have political experience to run for office. How about simply being an American?” Tarazona said. “This country really, really is worth fighting for.” 
Tarazona identifies as Cuban-American due to his Miami upbringing, but he also has family from Puerto Rico, Peru and Italy. 
Growing up in the Carol City neighborhood of Miami was an “eye opener,” Tarazona said. 
“It was bad. It was impoverished. I mean, just a very poor life,” Tarazona said. “But what my parents did provide for us, the two biggest things and I think they’re important, was church and education. That was not up for debate.” 
Tarazona said he has always been enamored with the Constitution. And when he crafted his platform, that document shot up to the top of his priorities list. 
“If I go to my issues, it is first and foremost the Constitution and the rule of law,” Tarazona said. “Everything we do or everything we are permitted to do emanates from that, plain and simple.”
Tarazona said once you get into what constituents consider “real policy,” the economy weighs the most heavily on him. Like his fellow candidates, Tarazona emphasized energy independence as a way to lift the economy up.
“Energy has made us a very wealthy nation. We can be so, so energy independent,” Tarazona said. “We don’t have to be going other places to get oil.”
Tarazona also wants to make economic success more accessible to families. He wants to make the child tax credit permanent, a decision he said is “not rocket science” but has been used as political fodder by both parties. He said failure to make the credit permanent demonstrates what’s broken about D.C. 
Tarazona added that the tax system benefits single-earner households and he wants to ensure couples get tax breaks for bringing children into the world. 
But he wants to make one thing clear: It’s not a handout.
“There was never a handout,” Tarazona said. “If taxes weren’t collected in the first place — see, these word games. It’s not a handout if you’re not charged for it, if you never paid for it.” 
Tarazona was the only candidate to express support for a nationwide ban on abortion. 
“Even if I didn’t, wasn’t big in the faith, life is life,” Tarazona said. “I’m tired of how you know for me, personally, how the left wants to pick and choose what life is and which life is important.” 
Tarazona does support exceptions to preserve the life of the mother or in the case of rape.
Tarazona is also strict when it comes to his perspective on gun control. He said he doesn’t even agree with Florida’s red flag law, which was passed after the 2018 Parkland mass shooting and allows judges to temporarily prevent individuals considered dangerous from owning or buying a firearm. Tarazona said the law violates people’s rights under the second, third and fourth amendments. 
Tarazona considers himself a “strict constitutionalist.” 
“I understand we’re trying to keep people safe, and we should. But most of the people we see doing crimes right now, the law would have never stopped them,” Tarazona said. “Growing up in Carol City showed me that people were gonna do what they wanna do.”
Tarazona’s campaign site and social media is littered with pro-MAGA messages and he has shared posts from far-right sites such as Newsmax and One American News Network. But when it comes to the story of the 2020 election, Tarazona breaks with the Trump movement. 
When asked if he thinks the election was “stolen,” Tarazona’s answer was simple: “uh uh.” 
“I do believe there was fraud committed. I do believe there are certain state legislatures or courts that did not follow their own laws,” Tarazona said. “But was it stolen? No. There could be fraud and not [be] stolen.” 
According to the Federal Election Commission, Franklin has raised the most money of the candidates at $783,306.53. He has $474,008.69 in cash on hand, according to reports gathered through June 30.
Raybon has raised $59,318.59 and has $25,634.63 on hand.
According to the FEC, Hartpence, Schmeling and Tarazona had not reported any campaign contributions.
Maya Lora can be reached with tips or questions at Follow her on Twitter @mayaklora.


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