Can the GOP Give Charlie Crist a Real Fight in 2020?


Amanda Makki and Charlie Crist

Amanda Makki and Charlie Crist

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., has a new Republican opponent and it looks as if Crist can expect more of a fight to keep his seat in 2020 than he did last year. 

Healthcare lobbyist Amanda Makki, a former aide to U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, last week launched her bid for the Republican nomination to challenge Crist . 

“I am fighting to give Pinellas a voice in Washington and a stake in the future of our country. By working together, we can bring effective and principled leadership back to the 13th District,” the new candidate notes on her website. 

Makki quickly drew fire from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) which tried to peg her as a “drug company lobbyist and Washington Republican.”

Avery Jaffe, a spokesman for the DCCC, took aim at MAKKI. 

“The last person Pinellas County voters would ever choose to represent them in Congress would be a DC lobbyist for big drug companies — and that’s exactly who Amanda Makki is,” Jaffe said. “While Charlie Crist works for the people and fights to lower prescription drug costs for Pinellas County seniors and families, Makki worked for the pharmaceutical industry in Washington, lobbying for a drugmaker that jacked up insulin costs by over 700 percent.”

The DCCC’s broadside at Makki shows Democrats are taking the race seriously despite Crist utterly routing Republican George Buck last year. Crist represents a swing district which includes parts of Pinellas County. Back in 2016, Crist narrowly edged U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., to flip the seat in a district where 37 percent of voters are Democrats and 34 percent are Republicans. Democrat Hillary Clinton carried the district 49 percent to Donald Trump’s 46 percent in 2016. Despite all that, Crist walloped Buck in 2018, beating him 58 percent to 42 percent. 

While the DCCC is already ripping into Makki, she does not have an open shot at the Republican nomination as Buck, John Coleman and Sheila Griffin, who ran for a St. Petersburg City Council in 2015.