Democrat who hopes to challenge Gus Bilirakis put on New Democrat Coalition Watch List

Democrat Chris Hunter, who's challenging Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor for Florida's 12th Congressional District seat. Picture courtesy of Chris Hunter.
Democrat Chris Hunter, who's challenging Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor for Florida's 12th Congressional District seat. Picture courtesy of Chris Hunter.
Published June 15
Updated June 16

A major Democratic group just put one of Gus Bilirakis' potential challengers on its list of candidates to watch.

The New Democrat Coalition, 68 congressional Democrats who emphasize economic issues and "finding pragmatic solutions to policy challenges," put Chris Hunter on its Watch List.

"Chris Hunter is focused on moving the country forward and building consensus to help break the gridlock in Washington," Jon Boughtin, Political Director for the NewDem Political Action Committee, said in a statement.

Hunter, a former federal prosecutor who applied to work at the FBI after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, has raised more than any of the other Democrats hoping to challenge Bilirakis for his seat. He's joined in the Democratic primary by tax contractor Stephen Perenich and attorney Robert Tager.

No matter who wins the nomination, they'll have a tough general election race on their hands. President Trump carried Florida's 12th congressional district by 19 points in 2016, and Bilirakis has raised almost $1 million for his re-election effort.

Read the full NewDem press release here:

The New Democrat Coalition, a group of 68 members of Congress from Florida and across the United States, announced today it has selected Chris Hunter who is running for Congress in Florida's 12th district for inclusion on its Watch List.

Hunter is a former federal prosecutor and FBI agent. He most recently served as a senior federal prosecutor with the United States Department of Justice on our nation's health care fraud strike force. He resigned from the Justice Department to run for Congress.

The New Democrat Coalition is one of the larger coalitions of Democratic Members in Congress, comprised of roughly one-third of all House Democrats. The NewDems focus on economic growth and fiscal responsibility and prioritize finding pragmatic solutions to policy
challenges. NewDem members are forward-thinking leaders committed to expanding access to quality health care at affordable prices, encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation, and delivering policy solutions to promote prosperity and security.

"Chris Hunter is focused on moving the country forward and building consensus to help break the gridlock in Washington," said Jon Boughtin, Political Director for the NewDem Political Action Committee. "He is winning support in Florida's 12th district with a message that puts
progress over politics. Chris Hunter is a strong addition to the NewDem 'Candidate Watch List' that we're pleased to announce."

"The New Democrat Coalition members focus on achieving results for all Americans so that we have a strong economy and a secure country," Hunter said. "I am looking forward to working tirelessly in Congress to advance economic opportunity and educational excellence and restore American global leadership and honest service."

Hunter, a Democrat, announced his candidacy January 2, 2018 for the seat currently held by Republican incumbent Gus Bilirakis.

Correction: This post has been updated to accurately reflect the Democratic candidates running in the CD-12 primary.

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