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Military Vet, GOP Newcomer Bursts Onto Scene with Key Victory: 'Never Discredit the Hard Work'

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A conservative political newcomer has won the hotly contested race for the Republican congressional nomination in Florida’s 13th District.

While the eyes of politicos nationwide turned to the 2020 Democratic National Convention on Tuesday night, conservative activist and Air Force veteran Anna Paulina Luna declared victory in the GOP primary from at home in the district, which covers Pinellas County in the Tampa Bay area.

The first-time candidate had secured 36 percent support and overtaken both of her closest rivals by at least 4,000 votes apiece, securing her an opportunity to unseat two-term Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist this November.

In a Wednesday interview with The Western Journal, Luna credited those results to grassroots organizing.

“It was obviously a huge victory for us because we put so much effort into this race,” Luna said. “And I think that what it proved, not just to the people of Pinellas County but really the nation, is that you can never discredit the hard work that people put it on grassroots campaigns.

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“And ultimately, it was the grassroots campaigning — whether it was the door-knocking, hitting the pavement, sign-wavings, even calling people and personally writing them thank-you notes — that ultimately was the reason why we won this election.”

Among those defeated in the crowded primary were career lobbyist Amanda Makki, a former aide to establishment GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski, and once-failed 2018 Republican congressional nominee George Buck.

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A young, Hispanic woman raised by a low-income single mother, Luna said it was predominantly her “different perspective” that made her more relatable to the electorate than the establishment figures that flanked her on the trail.

“I was really considered the underdog, and they really took to me because of that. I talk about my life perspective, I’m not embarrassed of where I came from, and that ability to connect really forms a bond with voters,” Luna said.

“Right now, that’s what people want, regardless of party affiliation,” she said. “They want real people who are accessible, who aren’t looking at running for office so that they can be the next elitist politician. They want people that are accessible, that want to make change regardless of party affiliation and that aren’t owned and paid for by Washington, D.C., and that’s the perspective I bring to the fight.”

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Luna sought to make that clear on election night, reminding voters in a social media victory announcement that she was intent on aiding President Donald Trump in efforts to “drain the swamp.”

No stranger to anti-establishment electoral upsets, Trump was quick to respond on Twitter with his congratulations, endorsing Luna in her upcoming general election battle — the backdrop for which is a major GOP effort to reclaim the House of Representatives from far-left Democratic control under Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

“Great WIN Anna! Watched your race from beginning, very impressed,” Trump wrote Luna just hours after the race was called.

“Your next opponent, Charlie Crist, is a Pelosi puppet who is bad on Crime, our Military, Vets, & 2nd Amendment. You have my Complete & Total Endorsement!”

Crist was elected to the House of Representatives as a Democrat in the same 2016 presidential election that saw Trump elevated to the Oval Office.

A former Republican, Crist served as Florida’s governor between 2007 and 2011, at the end of a 24-year stint under the GOP banner which had, at the time, spanned the entirety of his career.

In 2010, Crist officially left the Republican Party, going without partisan ties until 2012, when he declared his intent to join the Democratic Party. The lifelong politician would later release a book titled “The Party’s Over: How the Extreme Right Hijacked the GOP and I Became a Democrat.”

He has since supported a series of radical-left policies and political actions, from gun control to the president’s impeachment — a detail Luna was firm in emphasizing Wednesday given her district’s deep Republican heritage.

“Look, you have this guy, a career politician who’s been in office for 33 years,” Luna said. “That’s longer than I’ve been alive. Every party affiliation. He’s been a Republican. He’s been an independent. Now he’s a Democrat, and there are rumors that he tried to come back as a Republican.”

“This guy shouldn’t be in office. He’s not serving anyone else but himself,” she added.

“I might not necessarily tell people what they always want to hear. But I will do right by the people and do right by the Constitution of the United States, and that’s what I’m really hoping to present and bring to the situation.”

The Western Journal reached out to the Crist campaign for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

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Andrew J. Sciascia is the supervising editor of features at The Western Journal. Having joined up as a regular contributor of opinion in 2018, he went on to cover the Barrett confirmation and 2020 presidential election for the outlet, regularly co-hosting its video podcast, "WJ Live," as well.
Andrew J. Sciascia is the supervising editor of features at The Western Journal and regularly co-hosts the outlet's video podcast, "WJ Live."

Sciascia first joined up with The Western Journal as a regular contributor of opinion in 2018, before graduating with a degree in criminal justice and political science from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and worked briefly as a political operative with the Massachusetts Republican Party.

He has since covered the Barrett confirmation and 2020 presidential election for The Western Journal, and now focuses his reporting on Congress and the national campaign trail. His work has also appeared in The Daily Caller.




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