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Democrat Andrew Learned staffs up ahead of Dennis Ross challenge

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Andrew Learned, the 30-year-old Navy veteran from Bloomingdale seeking the Democratic nomination for Florida’s 15th Congressional District, announced Wednesday the addition of several new staff members.

However, the biggest news is that Learned signed on with Blue Ticket Consulting, the St. Petersburg based Democratic firm led by Tom Alte. Blue Ticket had been behind several successful Tampa Bay-area campaigns last year.

“Bringing Tom and his team on board with us is a huge win in helping continue to lead the Democratic effort to gather the resources we’ll need to flip what we know is the closest swing district in the Tampa Bay region,” Learned said in a statement.

Calling the CD 15 seat the “closest swing district” in the region’s congressional politics may not be that much of a stretch, but the fact remains that no Democrat has been remotely competitive there for years, certainly not since GOP incumbent Dennis Ross won the seat after it was vacated by Adam Putnam in 2010.

Alte had been working as campaign finance fundraising director for Greg Pilkington, another Democrat in the race.

The Learned campaign also announced Rosalind Moffett will serve as campaign manager; Tristan Pike is campaign coordinator; Ashley Motley will serve as creative and social media director.

Moffett worked on congressional campaigns in the district for Doug Tudor, a Democrat who lost to Putnam in 2008 and fellow Democrat Lori Edwards in 2010.

“I am excited to have so quickly grown our grassroots campaign to now be able to field the most talented and experienced campaign team in the region,” Learned said. “It is a testament to the energy and resolve to bring a new generation of leadership to Washington.”

Five Democrats are running for the chance to challenge Ross next year: Learned, Pilkington, Cameron Magnuson, Ray Pena and Greg Williams.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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