Republican Primary Race in Florida's 13th Congressional District Up for Grabs

Republican Primary Race in Florida's 13th Congressional District Up for Grabs

Javier Manjarres
Javier Manjarres
February 18, 2022

The congressional race to replace Rep. Charlie Crist (D) in Florida’s 13th District will undoubtedly be one of the most closely watched races in the country, as Republicans position themselves to win back the “toss-up” seat former Rep. David Jolly (R) lost during the 2016 presidential election.

During the 2020 general election, Rep. Crist defeated former Barack Obama supporter and Republican congressional nominee, Anna Paulina Luna, by a narrow 6 percentage points.

President Donald Trump, who outperformed Luna in the district, but not by much, has endorsed her candidacy, as has Reps. Matt Gaetz, Burgess Owens, Greg Steube, and former Speaker of the U.S. House Newt Gingrich.

President Trump’s endorsement is highly sought after by just about every single Republican running for public office but does not automatically guarantee a win for the endorsee.

Anna Paulina Luna
Anna Paulina Luna

But it sure helps.

Luna is by far the frontrunner in her primary race, but what wins elections is having a good ground game and the funds to fuel it.

According to the latest Federal Election Commissioner (FEC) campaign finance filings, Luna raised a whopping $500,000 at the end of 2021, padding her total fundraising total to $1,017, 051.72, of which $315,963.98 is “cash-on-hand.”

Luna’s extraordinarily high “burn rate” could be seen as a weakness, even though her primary opponents have raised significantly less cash than Luna.

Former Lobbyist Amanda Makki (pictured above) raised $541,230.24 and has $437,019.71 in the bank, while small business owner Audrey Henson has raised $306,346.22, of which $229,625.78 is available in the bank.

There are several other Republicans running in the race, like Christine Quinn, but none of them have been able to raise a credible fundraising total.


Up For Grabs

Even though Luna is the frontrunner in the race with big endorsements to tout and a large social media presence, this GOP primary race is up for grabs.

During their first head-to-head primary match-up in 2020, Luna defeated Makki by a vote margin of 36% to 29%. George Buck played the spoiler role, garnering 26% of the overall Republican vote, a vote total that many local Republicans believe would have mostly gone to Makki if Buck would have dropped out of the race.

During the 2020 primary election, Makki was endorsed by House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, but both men have yet to announce their support for her campaign this election cycle.

Audrey Henson
Audrey Henson

Makki recently won a local straw poll at a “Trump-themed coffee shop” that caters almost exclusively to Republicans, in particular those who support former President Trump.

Makki defeated Luna in the straw poll with 68 percent support (198 votes) to Luna’s 29 percent (86 votes).

But while straw polls could show a strong show of support in the community for Makki, it's hard to discount that Luna has been endorsed by President Trump.

Again, a Trump endorsement sways a lot of votes.

Audrey Henson is the wild card.

If she can raise the money she needs to disseminate her campaign message, Henson could turn out to be the George Buck of the 2022 cycle, or she could sneak past Makki and Luna, who have been exchanging political barbs over the past year.

In the end, having cash in hand to execute a winning campaign plan overshadows any endorsement.

At this point, it appears as if all three women are on an even playing field, but for now,  Makki has more money at her disposal and could be seen by some as the more viable candidate.

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Javier Manjarres

Javier Manjarres

Javier Manjarres is a nationally renowned award-winning political journalist and Publisher of,,, and He enjoys traveling, playing soccer, mixed martial arts, weight-lifting, swimming, and biking. Javier is also a political consultant and has also authored "BROWN PEOPLE," which is a book about Hispanic Politics. Follow on Twitter: @JavManjarres Email him at

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