Kevin Hayslett snags Tampa Bay Times endorsement among CD 13 GOP field

Kevin Hayslett cd 13 ad
'He isn’t shy about making his point, but he seems less disposed to political bomb-throwing just to please an insatiable social media audience.'

The Tampa Bay Times editorial board is recommending former prosecutor Kevin Hayslett for the Republican nomination in the race for Florida’s 13th Congressional District.

The Times selected Hayslett from a crowded roster of Republican candidates hoping to snag the nomination, including 2020 GOP nominee Anna Paulina Luna, Republican strategist Amanda Makki, businesswoman Christine Quinn and Moneer Kheireddine. Two years ago, the board recommended Luna over Makki.

“I entered this race as a political outsider because I know the kind of representation this community deserves. I’m ready to go to Washington and hold Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi accountable for the disastrous path they’ve put our county on,” Hayslett said in a statement.

“We have record inflation and our southern border is a disaster. Both of those things are directly impacting us here in Pinellas County. It’s time for a course correction, and it’s time to get our country back on track.”

The editorial board described Hayslett as “the candidate who best understands the district, its history, its people and its challenges.”

“Hayslett is an experienced lawyer with conservative views who would bring a commonsense, fact-based approach to governing,” the editorial board wrote. “He listed his three top priorities as combating rising inflation, cracking down on crime, and preserving personal freedoms.”

The board also referenced Hayslett’s slate of endorsements, including from House Speaker Chris Sprowls, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

“Hayslett was a well-regarded prosecutor before going into private practice and eventually building his own firm. Many prominent local Republicans are backing his campaign,” the board wrote.

In recommending Hayslett, the board took several jabs at Luna and Makki, criticizing their more firebrand campaign styles.

“He isn’t shy about making his point, but he seems less disposed to political bomb-throwing just to please an insatiable social media audience,” the board wrote. “Hayslett does not lack confidence, but he’s also personable and sprinkles in enough self-deprecating humor to put people at ease.”

The board expressed concern over Luna’s more incendiary approach, which it fears could lead her to join the small group of inflammatory, far-right Congressmembers led by Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Trump’s endorsement makes her a frontrunner in this race, but we worry that if elected she might join the small group of often-unhinged Republican representatives led by Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. If Luna makes it to Congress, we hope to be wrong,” the board wrote.

Since entering the race in January, Hayslett has continued to narrow the fundraising lead held by Air Force veteran Luna — Hayslett was the highest GOP fundraiser in Quarter 2, collecting $520,786 and bringing his total to $1,271,606. Luna, on the other hand, collected $336,717 in Q2, keeping her $522,166 ahead of Hayslett, having amassed $1,793,772 in the race.

As for cash on hand, Hayslett beats the 2020 Republican nominee with $729,942 in his pocket. Luna, on the other hand, has $553,826 cash on hand.

The district, which has changed due to redistricting, now extends further north into traditionally red parts of Pinellas County and eliminates parts of St. Petersburg, the currently drawn district’s largest city and a Democratic stronghold.

The district shifted from one where Democrat Joe Biden won the 2020 Presidential Election by 4 percentage points to a seat Republican Donald Trump won by 7 points. This has left one Democratic candidate — former Barack Obama administration official Eric Lynn — in the race.

Candidates are running to replace outgoing Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist as he runs for Governor.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected]


One comment

  • N.O. Difrunse

    July 29, 2022 at 6:14 am

    Which just goes to show that, when you get down to the truth, for all its liberal pretensions, the St. Pete Times is still an establishment rag.

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