Amanda Makki appears poised to make another attempt for Florida’s 13th Congressional District.
Makki, who lost the race two years ago in the Republican Primary to Anna Paulina Luna, is making a “major announcement” Tuesday at 10 a.m., she said Monday.
The news follows a trip to the southern border earlier this month in which she lamented in a tweet: “wall construction has STOPPED & now we have ARMED ILLEGALS crossing an open border, trespassing/kidnapping because of (Joe) Biden’s OPEN BORDER policies.”
Today I toured Trump’s border wall with Luna County, NM’s Sheriff. Wall construction has STOPPED & now we have ARMED ILLEGALS crossing an open border, trespassing/kidnapping because of Biden’s OPEN BORDER policies. Harris/Biden WON’T visit Luna County and won’t FINISH the wall! pic.twitter.com/VIKACEA9dH
— Amanda Makki (@amandamakki) July 7, 2021
Over the weekend, Makki joined a rally supporting Cuban protesters in St. Pete. Both moves show Makki is positioning herself on key issues facing voters in the 2022 election cycle.
Yesterday we rallied in support of the Cuban people sponsored by @Jaribfigueredo who is running for St Pete City Council. Knowing the ills of communism having grown up in Cuba, I believe he is the best candidate for our future.
We hear you, see you, and support you! #SOSCuba pic.twitter.com/VsqcHSc3hw
— Amanda Makki (@amandamakki) July 18, 2021
Makki’s announcement will be held at the outdoor terrace at the Central Park Performing Arts Center located within Largo Central Park. The media and public are invited to attend.
If she runs, Makki will again face Luna, who established herself two years ago as a pro-Trump conservative and social media firebrand. She bested Makki in the GOP Primary with 36% of the vote to Makki’s 29%. A third 2020 candidate, George Buck, earned 26% of the vote. Buck will be on hand at Makki’s announcement, signaling he will forego a third run for the seat himself in favor of backing Makki.
State Rep. Chris Latvala, Seminole Mayor Leslee Waters, Madeira Beach Mayor John Hendricks, North Redington Beach Mayor Bill Queen and former Largo City Council member Curtis Holmes are also expected to be on hand.
Makki got her start in politics via an appointment from the George W. Bush administration after 9/11 when she was appointed to the Pentagon’s General Councils office on anti-terrorism issues,
According to the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian-Americans, she is a former senior health adviser to Alaska Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who she served for seven years. Makki is of Iranian descent.
While Makki hasn’t officially announced her bid yet, she’s been active on social media all summer, posting updates about meetings with various CD 13 constituents. She has not yet filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission for a 2022 bid.
If the 2020 race is any indication, Makki will offer a more establishment option to Republican voters in the GOP Primary, with Luna claiming the Donald Trump wing of the party. That didn’t work two years ago when Trump himself was on the ballot. But without Trump at the top of the ticket, Makki could be hoping for a different outcome. Though, her border trip and reference to Trump’s wall signal she’s heading off possible opposition within her own party as a too moderate Republican.
Luna, as of Monday, is the only Republican candidate in the race. Republican William Braddock dropped out of the race on June 18 after recordings surfaced of him threatening Luna.
“I really don’t want to have to end anybody’s life for the good of the people of the United States of America,” Braddock reportedly said in the recording. “That will break my heart. But if it needs to be done, it needs to be done. Luna is a f***ing speed bump in the road. She’s a dead squirrel you run over every day when you leave the neighborhood.”
Three candidates are vying for the Democratic nomination, including state Reps. Ben Diamond and Michele Rayner–Goolsby and former Barack Obama administration national security adviser Eric Lynn. St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin has said she’s mulling a run.
The pack seeks to replace incumbent U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, who declined to seek reelection, running for Governor instead.
The CD 13 race is expected to be one of the most competitive in the state. It will likely be among the most expensive as donors nationwide contribute — Democrats in hopes of keeping the seat blue, and Republicans with an eye on flipping a key swing district as the party battles to reclaim a majority in the U.S. House.
The district currently has a Democratic advantage. Heading into last year’s presidential election, Republicans, through a massive voter registration effort that will continue into the 2022 midterms, chipped away at the Democratic advantage in the Pinellas County district from 5.2 percentage points to just 4.6.
And with redistricting on the horizon, Republicans leading the process could narrow that even more by shifting district boundaries northward. However, they may be reluctant to get too creative with redistricting after the Florida Supreme Court foiled their last attempts to draw a map favorable to the GOP.