Two Pinellas County mayors are endorsing Amanda Makki for Florida’s 13th Congressional District.
Treasure Island Mayor Larry Lunn and Belleair Bluffs Mayor Chris Arbutine, are backing the Republican candidate in the crowded primary. The winner of the GOP primary will take on incumbent Democrat Charlie Crist in November.
“Amanda Makki is the conservative leader Pinellas County can count on to stand up for us in Congress and the only candidate who can beat liberal Charlie Crist. Amanda understands the pressures facing small businesses, and she has worked her whole life serving others and our nation. Her community knowledge coupled with her passion to serve are just what we need,” Arbutine said.
Both mayors are Republicans.
“It’s easy to support a conservative, smart, and hardworking woman who has the best interest of Treasure Island and our community at heart. Amanda Makki is also an expert in health care policy, during a time when this experience is desperately needed. I fully support Amanda’s candidacy and look forward to working with her when she is in Washington,” Lunn said.
Makki is the top fundraiser in the GOP field with more than $1 million raised as of the end of June. But she faces stiff competition from military veteran Anna Paulina Luna who seeks to claim the far-right wing of the vote and is running as a staunch Trump ally.
Makki also faces former attorney Sheila Griffin, political newcomer Sharon Barry Newby and George Buck, who unsuccessfully challenged Crist in 2018. Of those, only Buck has raised significant funds.
“I’m thankful to receive the endorsements from Mayor Arbutine and Mayor Lunn. These hometown leaders work to improve the lives for all Belleair Beach and Treasure Island residents,” Makki said. “I look forward to serving alongside them and finding solutions to help jumpstart our economy post COVID-19, prevent Democrats’ tax increases and overregulation of our small businesses, reduce out-of-pocket costs mandated by Obamacare, and fix our transportation and traffic systems.”
Makki has received similar support from local leaders including Republican State Representative James Grant, Seminole City Council member Thom Barnhorn, Belleair Beach Mayor Joseph Manzo, and Treasurer Island Commissioner Tyler Payne.
Makki also has GOP establishment momentum. She’s recently brought in endorsements from military veterans including Sen. Joni Ernst, the first female combat veteran ever elected to the U.S. Sen.
Other endorsing veterans include Congressmen Michael Waltz (Lt. Colonel), Congressman Neal Dunn (Major), and combat veteran Robert O’Neill of the elite Navy SEAL team 6, who shot Osama bin Laden.
The veteran endorsements are important for Makki as she takes on Luna, a military veteran herself.
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 is Iranian.
Makki formerly 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.