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Facing an inevitable Republican challenge, Charlie Crist banks nearly $2.3M for reelection

“This campaign isn’t about me.”

Congressman Charlie Crist banked more than $431,000 in the second quarter of 2019 for his reelection campaign, he announced Monday. That brings Crist’s total campaign cash to nearly $2.3 million.

“I’m humbled by the outpouring of support we’re receiving in both time and resources to keep the people’s voice in Congress,” Crist said. “I work hard every day to put the people of Pinellas County first, no matter the challenges, partisanship, or division of our political climate.”

Crist’s earnings announcement comes just days after one of his Republican challengers, Amanda Makki, announced she raised $220,000 in less than a month. If Makki holds that pace, she’ll have out-raised Crist in second quarter earnings, which covers April 1 through June 30.

Still, as a new candidate Makki has a long way to go to catch up to Crist’s multi-million dollar campaign. 

“This campaign isn’t about me — it’s about reducing the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs, protecting Medicare and Social Security, and keeping oil rigs off our beaches,” Crist said. “That’s why I’m so grateful to the people of Pinellas County and our supporters across the country.”

Makki presents the first credible threat to Crist since he was first elected in 2016 when he defeated then incumbent Republican David Jolly. Crist faced Republican challenger George Buck in 2018, but easily defeated him with 58 percent of the vote. In that race, Crist raised more than $3 million compared to Buck’s $30,000.

While Makki is aggressively fundraising to topple Crist, she’ll have to face Buck in a Republican primary. If she can continue her fundraising momentum and hold onto most of that cash through the primary, Makki could have enough cash on hand to give Crist a run for his money. 

Makki is already running her campaign as if she’s running against Crist. In her fundraising announcement last week, Makki tied Crist to socialist policies.

“I value all that America has done for me and my family. America is the last beacon of hope for freedom and opportunity,” Makki wrote in an announcement. “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 immigrated to the United States from Tehran with her parents when she was an infant.

Republicans are at a slight disadvantage in Crist’s Congressional District 13, which covers parts of mid and southern Pinellas County. Nearly 187,000 voters in the district are registered Democrats while just 165,000 are Republicans. Another 139,000 have no party affiliation, which could help bridge the partisan gap for Makki. Those voter registration numbers are current as of last year’s midterm election. 

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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