Three months out, the Republican primary in CD 13 is heating up
George Buck, Anna Paulina Luna and Amanda Makki are looking to unseat Charlie Crist.

BUCK LUNA MAKKI
Makki’s cash still makes her the candidate to beat, but this is one to watch.

The Republican primary in Florida’s 13th Congressional District has been heating up as of late and is becoming the swing-seat GOP primary to watch in Florida.

Five candidates qualified last month: George Buck, Sheila Griffin, Anna Paulina Luna, Amanda Makki and Sharon Newby.

Buck is hoping for a rematch with incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, to whom he lost in a landslide 15-point defeat in 2018.

Buck has come under fire from his own party for incendiary comments, has faced questions about his “diploma mill” Ph.D., which he regularly touts, and has spent the last couple months peddling the theory that the Coronavirus is human-made.

Buck’s campaign had little cash on hand at the end of the first quarter — less than $40,000 after debt service, which suggests he will have difficulty raising his profile down the stretch of the primary, given his lack of resources.

Nevertheless, he is likely to have some residual name recognition from his 2018 run. However, Republicans looking to seriously challenge Crist in November will steer clear of Buck, given his landslide loss two years ago.

Both Griffin and Newby had raised less than $50,000 through the end of the first quarter and have had relatively quiet campaigns, though they do remain in the race for now. 

Luna’s campaign, however, has not been quiet.

The U.S. Air Force veteran and conservative commentator has a large social media following entered the race with a splash last September. She comes from the hardcore pro-Donald Trump wing of the Republican Party and quickly locked up endorsements from high-profile Trump allies such as U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz and Turning Point USA Founder/Students for Trump Co-Chair Charlie Kirk

Luna hit a lull in fundraising and momentum in the late fall but appears to have turned things around this spring, having posted a series of victories lately. She raised over $220,000 in the first quarter of 2020, the best quarterly report of any candidate in the race.

In the last month she’s followed up with a straw poll win, being named to the NRCC’s Young Guns program, appearing regularly in national conservative media, and racking up more endorsements from Trump allies as well as local leaders such as Bill Foster and David Yates. At this point, Luna has all the markings of a viable contender for the GOP nomination. If she keeps up her fundraising and recent momentum, an upset of Makki may be in the cards.

Makki, a lawyer, is a former Capitol Hill staffer and lobbyist. She is well connected in Washington D.C., as has been leading in both fundraising and endorsements since she entered the race last June.

She has been endorsed by U.S. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, a series of federal PACs, and a couple of local elected officials from smaller municipalities in Pinellas. 

Makki’s camp regularly touts their significant cash advantage and has suggested that she is the only candidate who can defeat Crist in November.

Detractors say she profiles similarly to former Republican U.S. Rep. David Jolly, who Crist unseated in 2016. Jolly, like Makki, was a former Capitol Hill staffer and lobbyist. While indeed having a significant cash advantage as of the last quarter, Makki will likely have to answer for some of her past work as a lobbyist now that it appears she will have a competitive primary race.

Earlier this week, an article dropped covering her 2018 lobbying work for the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a left-wing nonprofit with offshoots tied to efforts to stop the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, impeach Trump, and win back the House for Democrats in 2018.

The article quickly went viral on Twitter, propagated by Trump allies and Trump-favored media personalities. A Twitter search of her name now reveals a torrent of attacks challenging her Republican and conservative credentials.

Her past lobbying clients include pharmaceutical companies and opioid manufacturers as well, a point the Democratic Congressional Committee was quick to make upon her entry into the race.

With just under 100 days to go until the August primary election, the CD 13 race no longer appears to be a sleepy affair.

Several high-profile members of the pro-Trump machine back Luna, while much of the Republican establishment and House leadership backs Makki.

Although, Luna was able to score a spot on the NRCC Young Guns list after Makki was endorsed by McCarthy, perhaps suggesting she is not totally shut out from that world either. As it stands, Makki’s cash still makes her the candidate to beat, but this is one to watch.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


3 comments

  • Margaret Blustine

    May 14, 2020 at 4:51 pm

    Peter. What do you think de santis response meant to question about opening gyms in phase 2? De santis clearly sent the message to many millions of fla residents when he answered “don’t worry about gyms and phase 2 opening, if you are in good shape you don’t have to worry”!! Obvious a trump answer kill everybody the young will survive to work.how wrong when so many workers age are sick dead disabled by this virus.obvious trump and de sanoise both think disabled and elderly are totally disposable and ok to murder them.obvious with national and fla lack of response competance or desire to stop it.unlike other countries governments americas is Hitler mentality only worse.it won’t work.trumps and de santis herd immunity experiment.a vaccine maybe next yr all experts say herd immunity will take 3 yrs and meantime just like Tyson Smithfield etc etc so many ongoing sick disabled dead workers age will total crash economy by August for years. Tsubasa avoidable it’s unnecessary as Dr faucI clearly said.but trump nor de santis want to slow down do it right. They don’t care.like everything else both haven’t done right phase 1 etc will horribly backfire on both of them with a very short lived economy abt a month then disaster happens fast as virus shuts down all business stock market as virus out of control is not contained in America as Dr faucI warned of coming catrosphic results very soon.fla has increasing daily 800 cases still.de santis said he using positivity forMula which gives fake misinformation abt always still way too high fla numbers accurately seen on John Hopkins site and fla cases have only gone on upward track never flattened 800 daily isn’t flat.it’s 32000 more every 4 weeks.fla and trump decided try herd immunity so that’s where fla and america are.trump did it from the beginning very obvious in his lack of doing anything.now de santis for many weeks using fake formula for low cases when is reported reputable fla cases positive always way too high. Herd immunity didn’t work in Switzerland wonot with 325 population for sure. De santis implying now elderly disabled etc are disposable to him is horrific.the world watches him and trump in disbelief and horror as america becomes the country that has no interest in helping or protecting it’s people like the rest of govt and countries even the poorest.it’s a national disgrace and one that trump and de santis will go down in history as causing the total collapse of America in 3 months.china will emerge as world leader.they took care of their people.so Korea had less than 400 deaths,america will become a 4th worlds country shunned ignored not needed very soon.and reviled.and probably will develop a one party system instead of 2 who argue so long they let america die bowing to insane trump.they both don’t get it that lives keep the economy going not dead and sick people.more than moneyou workers are needed and they don’t get it they will destroy the American work force by August now.get rid of trump now.he’s unfit and deadly for America a bully and idiot who refuses to see reality and has corrupted de santis to his satanic lies.democracy has been dead since trump took office

    • Jim Donelon

      May 14, 2020 at 10:23 pm

      Really on message ?????????????

  • Jim Donelon

    May 14, 2020 at 10:24 pm

    Glad to see all this Republican money being spent on a fools errand !!!!

Comments are closed.


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