NRCC spotlights Dane Eagle, Amanda Makki, Maria Elvira Salazar in Young Guns program

Dane Eagle - campaign site photo
Who else could have been a contender?

The National Republican Congressional Committee announced its first round of ‘Contenders’ in its Young Guns program Wednesday.

Three Florida candidates for Congress — Dane Eagle, Amanda Makki and Maria Elvira Salazar — made the cut.

“These hardworking candidates have proved their ability to run strong, competitive campaign operations,” said House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. “We’re going to ensure these contenders are victorious in November by forcing their Democratic opponents to own their party’s radical socialist agenda.”

Most notably, Eagle found a place on the list. That’s despite Eagle being one of eight Republicans running to succeed Rep. Francis Rooney.

“I am incredibly thankful to Leader McCarthy for his hard work to make Congress red again and am honored to be on his list of Contenders,” Eagle said.

“It’s a tribute to the hard work of our team and the loyal support we have received from the people of Southwest Florida.”

The NRCC’s support lifts Eagle in a crowded field of candidates running in one of the safest GOP seats in Florida. Both Makki and Salazar aim this year to take out Democrats currently serving in Congress.

Makki, an attorney and former George W. Bush appointee to the Pentagon’s General Councils office on anti-terrorism issues, filed in June to challenge Rep. Charlie Crist, a Tampa Democrat, in Florida’s 13th Congressional District.

Salazar faces a rematch with Rep. Donna Shalala, the Miami Democrat who won in Florida’s 27th Congressional District in 2018.

Both Makki, a former congressional health care policy adviser, and Salazar already boasted support from the NRCC, having made it onto the Young Guns “On The Radar” list last August.

But just as notable seems in Florida politics seems who could have been a Contender but wasn’t.

Neither Irina Vilariño nor Carlos Giménez, two Republicans challenging Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, made it onto McCarthy’s list, despite making it through the “On The Radar” round.

Another snub? Leo Valentin, one of several Republicans trying to take out U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, also made it for “On The Radar” but didn’t get listed after this second round of vetting.

Eagle is the only candidate in his race to thus far make it onto the “On The Radar” or “Contender” list.

NRCC leaders say ‘Contender’ candidates all completed stringent program metrics and have proved they can develop a “mature and competitive campaign operation.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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