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Federal prosecutor steps up to challenge Gus Bilirakis

Concerns about President Trump's leadership helped him decide to run

A former FBI agent and federal prosecutor from Trinity today announced his candidacy to challenge six-term Republican congressman Gus Bilirakis.

"American service is an enduring promise that crosses generations, connects us to one another, and inspires hope," said Democrat Chris Hunter, 44. "All of us are looking forward to renewing the American promise of service to our country and to one another."

Hunter is a political newcomer who applied to the FBI following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and as as agent focused on counterintelligence, counterterrorism, and international fugitive investigations. He most recently worked as a senior prosecutor with the United States Department of Justice concentrating on health care fraud.

Concerns about President Trump's leadership helped him decide to take on an uphill political campaign.

"All Americans deserve honest, principled leadership that unites us around our shared values.  This past year was not a reflection of the America we all know and love," he said. "It is time to end the politics of hatred and division and embrace a renewal of service to one another and our country."

Congressional District 12, which covers all of Pasco County and part of north Pinellas, is a heavily Republican district that Donald Trump won by nearly 19 percentage points. Bilirakis's father, Mike Bilirakis, held the seat for more than two decades before Gus, 54, succeeded him.

"Public service is a privilege," said Democrat Chris Hunter, 44. "It is not an entitlement program for career politicians. Career politicians who sell out to the highest bidder or to political power brokers violate the trust we all place in our government. What's worse, they turn their backs on our shared values and the true meaning of American service."

Hunter and his wife have a son and three daughters who attend public school in Pasco County. He is the son of a school teacher and a United States Marine. Hunter teaches at Stetson University College of Law and the University of Tampa.

Other Democrats running include Stephen Perenich of Tarpon Springs, Sunil Mathew Thomas of Palm Harbor, and Robert Tager of Lutz, who won 31 percent of the vote against Bilirakis in 2016.