Republican lawyer and former congressional healthcare policy adviser Amanda Makki is aggressively raising funds to competitively challenge Congressman Charlie Crist in 2020.
Makki raised more than $220,000 in the first 27 days of her campaign, she announced Wednesday. She filed to challenge Crist on June 3.
“I am overwhelmed by the support I am receiving throughout the community,” Makki said. “I appreciate the faith people are placing in me to fight for a strong economy, lower health care costs, good-paying jobs, and less government regulations on small businesses.”
Though Makki’s initial fundraising push was strong, she’s facing a heavy lift against a well-funded incumbent.
Crist has raised more than $350,000 since the beginning of the year and is sitting on nearly $2 million in his campaign, according to federal campaign finance reports.
The district covers mid and south Pinellas County including St. Petersburg.
Makki was born in Tehran and immigrated with her family to the United States when she was an infant in 1979.
Makki said her family escaped an oppressive religious regime that persecuted non-Muslims. Growing up in the United States, Makki witnessed her parents overcome poverty as her mother worked as a childcare provider and delivered phone books to make ends meet while her father studied to become a surgeon. That inspired Makki to develop a strong work ethic.
“I’m running because the people of the 13th District deserve a public servant who will fight for a strong economy, lower health care costs, good paying Tampa Bay area jobs, and less government regulations on small businesses,” Makki said.
“I value all that America has done for me and my family. America is the last beacon of hope for freedom and opportunity. If we concede to those looking to make this a socialist country, we risk losing the only nation where you can still succeed regardless of your background or upbringing.”
Makki is a former Senior Health Advisor to Alaska Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski who she served for seven years, according to the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian-Americans.
Makki, an attorney and former George W. Bush appointee to the Pentagon’s General Councils office on anti-terrorism issues, previously served as a partner with K&L Gates, a nationally-ranked public policy firm. She also currently served as Director of FDA Legislation and External Affairs for the Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk where she led the company’s external affairs and managed Food and Drug Administration-related legislation.
Prior to her private sector experience, she served as a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee during debate and passage of the Affordable Care Act. While serving in Murkowski’s office, she developed helped author health care legislation and amendments, and helped to set overall messaging and policy strategy.
Makki also worked for Republican Nebraska Congressman Jeff Fortenberry providing legal counsel on healthcare and education issues.
“I cannot idly stand by knowing that we can do so much more, and that the people of the 13th District deserve better. I will work hard to earn the trust and support of the citizens of Pinellas County, then I will fight tenaciously to get things done for them,” Makki said.
Before taking on Crist, Makki faces a primary challenge. Republican George Buck is also running.