Florida has always had the power to shake things up when it comes to national elections, However, as the nation moves toward the 2022 primary and 2024 presidential election cycles, it’s about to become the unequivocal epicenter of a seismic electoral shift that will reshape the entire political landscape for years if not decades to come.
As Anna Paulina Luna told The Free Press in an exclusive interview, “Florida is going to be the focus of the nation.”
Consider the facts. Florida is the home of Donald Trump, who has all but made an official announcement that he is running for election in 2024. Florida is also the home of Republican Ron DeSantis, a powerhouse governor whose near-flawless management during the COVID-19 crisis and fearless jousting with critics in the media and Democratic party has his popularity soaring.
On April 26, 2021, the U.S. Census Bureau announced — based on the 2020 decennial census results — Florida will gain one Congressional House seat. That gives Republicans a total of 28 representatives in the 435-member House.
Florida will also gain one electoral vote, for a total of 30 out of the 538 electors. That increases Florida’s clout in contributing to the 270 votes needed for a candidate to win the presidency.
Luna made an impressive challenge to claim the 13th Congressional District seat still held by career politician Charlie Crist in 2020. On May 4, Crist announced he will be entering the Florida 2022 Primary race in an effort to reclaim the seat he sacrificed in a failed effort to win the Senate seat won by Marco Rubio in 2010.
Crist’s campaign to return to the governor’s mansion opens the door for another GOP gain in the Florida House where Republicans already have a 78-42 majority.
“I am filed to run in FL-13,” Luna clarified. “But we do not know where the state legislature will draw the district yet so right now we are fundraising as much as we can.”
Luna, a political newcomer, received the endorsement of President Donald Trump ahead of the 2020 race.
“For someone like myself, who never intended to get into politics, to have someone like the president of the United States endorse you is a pretty big deal,” Luna told Epoch Times. “So, I was very happy to receive that endorsement.”
Crist began his political career in the Florida Senate as a Republican from 1993 to 1999. In 1998, Crist ran an unsuccessful campaign to unseat incumbent Bob Graham for the U.S. Senate. From 2001 to 2003, Crist served as Florida Education Commissioner. Then Crist served as Florida’s Attorney General from 2003 until 2006 when he was elected as Florida’s governor.
In 2010, Crist again made a run for the U.S. Senate. But the GOP pulled their support after he was overtaken in the polls by another political newcomer named Marco Rubio. It was then that Crist switched his party affiliation to run as an independent against Rubio and Democratic candidate Kendrick Meeks. Rubio won and Crist’s term as Florida’s governor ended in January 2011.
On December 7, 2012, Crist joined the Democratic Party. In 2014, Crist lost his effort to reclaim his seat as governor to Rick Scott.
According to Luna, it isn’t just the potential candidates for future elections that will make Florida the state to watch in the next elections, it’s “the congressional representatives we already have in office.”
“I think we have some absolute rock stars,” Luna asserted, “and I think with everything happening on the national scene, especially with regards to the COVID response and the discrimination a lot of conservatives were facing and how the Republican party is receiving this infusion of new blood with strong, younger representatives that are breaking the stereotypes of what the Republican Party is supposed to be, I really do think Florida is going to be leading the charge nationally on the revamp of the GOP.”
In the aftermath of Trump’s gut-punch loss in 2020 and the loss of majority status in the Senate, many Republicans are still struggling to accept the idea that they lost. But Luna believes, with the mounting dramatic advances and positive political changes brewing in the Sunshine State, that pre-2020 confidence and enthusiasm is returning to the Republican Party.
“I think everything is riding on 2022,” Luna theorized. “What we really saw with the results of the elections and the contesting of some of those results, what the American people really want is to know that when they elect someone, they will have someone who will fight for them – metaphorically fight for them — in Washington DC and I think with what’s happening right now there is going to be a big shift in the Republican Party.”
“Ironically,” Luna added, “the day after – literally the day after I had lost my election, I received an email from one of my supporters who said: ‘You know, you had a great race, you almost replaced the former governor of Florida and basically drained his entire ban account. But if you ever hope to have a career in politics you’re going to have to understand that Donald Trump is no longer influential in the Republican Party.”
“He was a donor,” Luna clarified of the person who sent the email, “and he had been a Romney supporter for a really long time and had worked on the Romney campaign and he said: ‘If you ever, ever align yourself or your brand with the former president you will be canceled in Washington, D.C. and I will not support you,” and I just looked at the email and thought ‘this guy is absolutely out of touch.’”
According to a CNBC survey, 74% of Republicans sampled want Trump to stay active in politics, including 48% who want him to remain head of the Republican Party.
U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) was booed from the stage at the Utah GOP Convention at the Maverik Center in West Valley City, Utah on May 1.
“Trump is representing the American people, the base, he’s who they want, and I can tell you that, for someone who has never really been political prior to 2016, the reason why I even chose to get political in the line with then-candidate Trump, is because I was working to shed light on trafficking at the Mexican border. “I appreciate everything he does. I appreciate the fact that he hasn’t been in Washington, D.C. and I hope he continues to fight for the American people and that we can get more people elected that are not a part of the establishment problem.”
Regarding the wave of Election Integrity bills making their way through congress in traditionally conservative-leaning states like Florida and being signed into law in states such a Georgia, Luna believes this trend will soon start moving into historically blue states as we get closer to 2022.
“It’s going to have to,” Luna said. “For someone like myself who has campaigned and had boots on the ground, you want the American people to have faith in the election process. Republican voters lost faith. As a candidate, you want to have faith in the process as well because it takes so much time and so much effort and personal sacrifice to run for office so it going to continue and I think that not just in red states
Luna also touted how Florida was a national example of how to run a near-flawless election in 2020, posting their election results “in almost 30 minutes after the polls closed.”
However, Florida also became famous for election blunders, such as the “hanging chad” fiasco during the 2000 George Bush – Al Gore presidential election.
“We use to have huge issues, like with Broward County when all of these ballots would just show up and they couldn’t get them in on time and then DeSantis came in, fired that supervisor and really cleaned it up, and that is going to have to continue especially in blue states. I am skeptical they are going to fix things any time soon and it’s not acceptable. You have to maintain a standard for everyone” Luna attested. “Not just for Republicans but for Democrats as well.”
“For the life of me, I don’t know why Gov. Kemp waited so long to do the voter ID and vote-by-mail ballot signature verification,” Luna said. “It’s ridiculous.”
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