Outgoing Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls weighed in Tuesday on the crowded race for the 13th Congressional District, endorsing attorney Kevin Hayslett in the Republican primary.
Hayslett is one of the most recent candidates to jump into the congressional race. When he announced his campaign, he said he already had the endorsement of Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and former sheriff Jim Coats.
“Our country needs selfless, conservative leaders who confront our challenges head on with courage and conviction,” Sprowls said in a statement. “I know Kevin will do just that in Congress and I’m proud to call him a friend and even more proud to endorse him to represent Pinellas County in Congress.”
Both Sprowls and Hayslett have backgrounds as former prosecutors.
“I could not be more honored to receive Speaker Sprowls’ support,” Hayslett said in a statement. “He has shown this community and this state what a true fighter he is, and I’m eager to do the same in Congress.”
Florida’s 13th District encompasses much of Pinellas County, excluding the eastern part of St. Petersburg. The boundaries were redrawn this year as part of the once-a-decade reapportionment process, making the competitive 13th District more reliably red. The seat is among those being targeted by the National Republican Congressional Committee this year.
Hayslett raised about $750,000 in the first quarter of the year, more than any of the other candidates. But Anna Paulina Luna, the Republican candidate for the seat in 2020 who lost to Democrat Charlie Crist, has raised the most money total for the 2022 race.
Other candidates in the race have also netted major endorsements, including Luna, who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
Strategist Amanda Makki, business owner Christine Quinn, former University of South Florida student body president Moneer Kheireddine and Jim Davis of Wimauma are also running as Republicans for the seat.
Eric Lynn, a national security consultant, is the only Democrat now running after two other primary opponents dropped out. Business owner Frank Craft is running as a Libertarian.
Hayslett previously represented William Braddock, a short-lived 13th District candidate 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.