Attorney Kevin Hayslett joins Republican race for Florida’s 13th District

The Clearwater lawyer had previously represented another short-lived candidate in the race on a stalking injunction.
Clearwater attorney J. Kevin Hayslett has announced a run for Congress.
Clearwater attorney J. Kevin Hayslett has announced a run for Congress. [ Courtesy of J. Kevin Hayslett ]
Published Jan. 19, 2022|Updated Jan. 19, 2022

Kevin Hayslett, a Clearwater attorney and former prosecutor, announced his plan on Wednesday to run for Florida’s 13th Congressional District.

Hayslett, a Republican, said he’s already been endorsed by Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and former Pinellas County Sheriff Jim Coats.

Hayslett is positioning himself as a “law and order” candidate who is a Trump Republican and political outsider.

“I care about our community and I have deep roots here, but like many others, I’m concerned with how Washington politicians are trying to dictate how we live our lives,” Hayslett said in his announcement.

Hayslett, 59, joins several other Republicans vying for the seat being vacated by Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, who is running for governor. That includes Anna Paulina Luna, who won the 2020 Republican primary but lost in the general election to Crist.

Hayslett previously legally represented William Braddock, a short-lived candidate in the same 2022 race who was taken to court over a stalking injunction filed by Luna. The injunction was dismissed by the judge, who said it didn’t meet the legal definition for stalking.

Hayslett said he wants to secure the border, fight inflation, lower taxes and ensure better public safety.

“Kevin Hayslett is a true leader who I’ve worked with when he was a prosecutor to put dangerous criminals behind bars and keep Pinellas County families safe,” Gualtieri said in a statement. “As a member of Congress, Kevin Hayslett will be a strong ally to ensure we keep crime rates low and that’s why he’s local law enforcement’s clear choice for Congress.”

Along with Luna, Hayslett is set to face Republican strategist Amanda Makki, nonprofit founder Audrey Henson and business owner Christine Quinn in the Republican primary.

Among Democrats, Rep. Ben Diamond, D-St. Petersburg, national security adviser Eric Lynn and Rep. Michele Rayner, D-St. Petersburg, are all vying for the seat. Frank Craft, a business owner, is running as a Libertarian.

Florida’s 13th District is in southern Pinellas County and encompasses cities like St. Petersburg, Pinellas Park, Largo and Clearwater.