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2020

Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk backs Anna Paulina Luna for CD 13

The pro-Donald Trump group seeks influence in college campuses.

Charlie Kirk, founder and president of the pro-Donald Trump Turning Point USA and chair of Students for Trump, is endorsing Anna Paulina Luna for Congress.

Luna is running in the Republican primary for Florida’s 13th Congressional District in hopes of taking out Democratic incumbent Charlie Crist.

“Anna is a true fighter for our country! We need more like her! Check out her run for Congress, critical to help patriots like her,” Kirk wrote in an announcement Monday.

Turning Point USA is a far-right conservative nonprofit that seeks to increase conservative engagement among high school and college students and actively rallies against what the group sees as an influx of liberalism in academic settings and an erosion of freethinking principles.

The group is behind the controversial professor watchlist that names college professors the group deems anti-conservative. Professors on the list, of which there are hundreds, have landed there for things like writing op-eds opposing conservative-supported policy, activism counter to conservative ideals or teaching in a manner some might consider discriminative against Republican students.

Turning Point USA is also controversial within its own party. In 2018, a memo leaked from the Young America’s Foundation warning students against the organization’s “the lack of integrity, honesty, experience and judgment.”

Turning Point has been accused of secretly funneling money to conservative student government candidates and for inflating pro-Republican figures or exaggerating claims.

They’ve also been accused of using Nazi sympathizers to boost attendance at rallies.

Luna is running in a crowded Republican primary as a pro-Trump candidate. She’s also earned an endorsement from one of the President’s most loyal Florida allies, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz.

Luna faces U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski staffer Amanda Makki, former lawyer Sheila Griffin, former Republican National Convention executive Matt Becker and perennial candidate George Buck.

Clearwater business owner and self-proclaimed political outsider Sharon Barry Newby has said she is running, but is not listed as a candidate with the Federal Elections Commission.

Buck is also running on a pro-Trump platform for the Trump wing of the Republican Party.

Luna is a military veteran and calls herself an “unapologetic conservative who is ready to lead the next generation in the fight against radical socialism.”

In an email announcing Turning Point USA’s support, Luna said the American dream is at stake.

“Extreme leftists push more government and less freedom, while career politicians — in both parties — are more beholden to special interests than their constituents,” her campaign wrote. “Anna took an oath to defend our country in the Air Force. She’s now ready to take that oath to Washington.”

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 Patch.com 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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