Amanda Makki announced Tuesday that she will once again be a candidate for the Republican nomination for Congress in Florida’s 13th District in 2022.

What You Need To Know

  • Makki finished 2nd to Anna Paulina Luna in the 2020 Republican race for Florida's 13th Congressional District, receiving 28% of the vote to Luna's 36%

  • Makki has become a prolific writer/political commentary for conservative news outlets

  • The district currently leans Democratic, but that could change after redistricting

  • More Politics headlines

“Last time I ran, as you know, I fell short,” she told a group of supporters who gathered Tuesday morning under a tent at the Central Park Performing Arts Center in Largo. “I believe that you learn more from your losses than you do from your wins. And what it confirmed to me when we ended up losing this race in November was, we desperately need to have a conservative voice in Washington that represents us.”

Makki finished second to Anna Paulina Luna in the five-person field for the GOP nomination in CD 13 last year. Luna then ended up losing the seat to Democratic-incumbent Charlie Crist last fall by six percentage points in the general election, but it will be a different race in 2022.

That’s because Crist will no longer be the incumbent, having announced earlier this year that he is seeking to become governor for the second time. And the congressional district, which contains about 4.5% more Democrats than Republicans, is expected to be more favorable to the GOP a year from now, after the Republican-led Legislature redraws the seat as part of the once every decade redistricting process.

Makki and Luna are the only major Republicans to enter the race at this time, though the field is expected to grow in the coming months.

Makki came out firing against Luna in her speech, calling her a “phony Republican” and “Charlie Crist in a skirt” for supporting Barack Obama for president and for failing to support Ron DeSantis for governor in 2018.

(James Blair, a spokesperson for Luna, responded in kind, telling Spectrum Bay News 9 that,"Amanda Makki shouted all the same lies about Anna in the primary last year and still lost by 7 points. It seems Ms. Makki is hoping that Republican primary voters will be more receptive this year than they were last year to nominating a career political insider and high paid lobbyist." He went on to say that "I'm sure Ms. Makki also hopes Pinellas Republicans will forget that she did nothing to help beat Charlie Crist after being defeated by Anna.").

Makki also talked about her background as a legal immigrant from Iran whose family left the dictatorship there, and linked the oppression felt by the Iranian people with what the people in Cuba are rebelling against today.

And she spent a portion of her fifteen-minute speech blasting the administration of President Joe Biden for abandoning the border security policies and immigration reforms enacted by the Trump administration. Makki recently spent some time along the border — specifically in Luna County, New Mexico — where she said she asked the local sheriff there why Vice President Kamala Harris had visited El Paso on her trip to the border, but not Luna County?

“He said ‘because she doesn’t want to see the actual problems. There’s nothing to see in El Paso.’ And he said when Customs and Borders are elsewhere, we have to do their job.' Local law enforcement has to do the job of maintaining the border. That is not their job. But they’re having to do it because Joe Biden won’t. That is a dereliction of duty,” Makki said.

Makki also attacked the Democrats push for federal election reform and supporting the teachings of Critical Race Theory, but emphasized that “it’s not too late for our country. The America we know and love can and must be saved by restoring the conservative values our country was founded on.”

Republicans are enthusiastic about their chances of taking back the U.S. House of Representatives in next year’s midterm elections, needing only to flip five seats. Makki says that CD 13 can be one of those seats. “This is ground zero,” she said of Pinellas County. “To be successful, we need to nominate a strong conservative who can win in November.”

Joining Makki at her press conference were a host of locally elected officials, including state Reps. Chris Latvala and Linda Chaney and former state Rep. Jim Frishe, along with a number of mayors from Pinellas beach communities, and perhaps most importantly, George Buck, Jr. 

Buck was the GOP nominee for the CD 13 seat in 2016, where he soundly defeated by Crist. He has a strong following with the Trump base in Pinellas, however, and received 25.8% of the vote in last year’s CD 13 Republican primary, just 2.5 % below Makki’s 28.3% total. His support could be important, depending on how the rest of the field shakes out.

On the Democratic side, state Reps. Ben Diamond and Michele Rayner have already announced their candidacies, as has former Obama administration official Eric Lynn and Christian Hotchkiss.