Nov 9, 2022 - Politics

Anna Paulina Luna, Laurel Lee and more Republican wins in Florida

Ron DeSantis holds up Anna Paulina Luna's arm as a crowd cheers at a rally

Anna Paulina Luna and Gov. Ron DeSantis during a campaign speech on Saturday in Clearwater. Photo: Octavio Jones/Getty Images

Republicans secured several key races in the Tampa Bay area on Tuesday, serving as further proof that solidly red Florida is past its days as a swing state.

  • Here's a breakdown of what happened in key races in our metro:

13th Congressional District

Pinellas County residents voted in Republican Anna Paulina Luna as the new representative for 13th Congressional District, the Associated Press reported.

State of play: After the two were virtually tied in October polls, Luna pulled ahead last night to take the seat Charlie Crist vacated during his failed run for governor.

  • Luna is a U.S. Air Force veteran and conservative commentator. She was endorsed by former President Donald Trump and the political action committee of the House Freedom Caucus.
  • She lost to Crist two years ago, when the district favored Democrats.

Between the lines: Recent redistricting turned the seat red as it was shifted west of mostly Democratic St. Petersburg to cover Clearwater, Pinellas Park, Seminole and Palm Harbor.

The other side: Luna beat out Democrat Eric Lynn, a national security adviser under former President Barack Obama who was focused on getting the moderate vote.

15th Congressional District

Laurel Lee has won 15th Congressional District, another redrawn seat that now covers parts of Hillsborough, Pasco and Polk counties, the Associated Press reported.

  • The Republican swept the race, despite the fact that the district has the smallest difference in Republican and Democrat voters of any district in the state, Florida Politics reports.

Flashback: Lee, who has served as a Florida secretary of state and Circuit Court judge, defeated a stacked Republican primary ticket and kept up a fundraising lead over her Democratic challenger Alan Cohn.

  • The main pillars of her campaign were supporting the economy, law enforcement and gun rights.

Cohn, a former investigative journalist at ABC 7 News in Sarasota, previously ran for the seat in 2020 but was defeated by incumbent Republican Rep. Scott Franklin.

  • His campaign priorities included lowering taxes, lowering prescription drug costs, and improving infrastructure.

State Representative, District 62

Democrat Michele Rayner has won a second term in the Florida Legislature, now in a newly drawn seat, per unofficial state election results.

State of play: The Democrat will represent southern St. Petersburg and the east Hillsborough County areas of East Tampa, Gibsonton and Riverview in District 62.

  • The civil rights attorney previously served two terms representing District 70. She initially filed to run for Florida's 13th Congressional District but pulled out of that race after the redrawn district split St. Petersburg.

Her opponent, retired Green Beret Jeremy Michael Brown, ran his Republican campaign from Pinellas County Jail, where he awaits trial for eight felony charges related to the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021.

State Senator, District 14

Sen. Janet Cruz has lost her seat to Gov. DeSantis-endorsed Republican Jay Collins, per unofficial state elections results.

Flashback: Cruz beat the incumbent in her Hillsborough County seat by just 411 votes in 2018, per the Tampa Bay Times.

  • This time, she lost by more than 18,000 votes.
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