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Pinellas Democrats enter race for congressional seat held by Anna Paulina Luna

Whitney Fox becomes the latest Democrat to jump into the race, and announced her campaign with the endorsement of former Mayor Rick Kriseman.
 
Whitney Fox and Mark Weinkrantz are two recent Democratic candidates for Florida's 13th Congressional District.
Whitney Fox and Mark Weinkrantz are two recent Democratic candidates for Florida's 13th Congressional District. [ Courtesy of Whitney Fox for Congress, Mark Weinkrantz for Congress ]
Published Oct. 24, 2023|Updated Oct. 24, 2023

A St. Petersburg Democrat and former Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority employee is running for the congressional seat held by Republican U.S. Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, hoping to win what national Democrats see as a potential blue pickup in 2024.

Whitney Fox, 36, announced her campaign Tuesday for Florida’s 13th Congressional District, which includes most of Pinellas County. It makes her the latest Democrat to jump into the 2024 race.

Earlier in October, Democrat Mark Weinkrantz, a retired pilot who in 2014 ran for Pinellas County Commission, filed to run. John Liccione, whose website describes him as a technology executive, filed to run in June.

Fox worked as the director of communications and marketing for the transit authority but resigned effective Monday, the agency confirmed. She announced her campaign with the endorsement of former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman.

Fox said in a statement that she sees the affordability crisis affecting Florida families and wants to help, noting that she is a mother of two young girls. She said politicians like Luna have “left us behind in pursuit of an extreme agenda.”

Fox grew up in the Tampa Bay area and attended the University of Central Florida.

“Right now, our government is at a standstill because of Anna Paulina Luna, who has used her position to cause chaos and confusion to raise her profile,” Fox said in the statement. “I am proud to announce my candidacy to put an end to the disorder, grow the middle class, and protect a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions.”

Other Democrats are also hoping they can unseat Luna, who is the only Republican in the race so far.

Weinkrantz, 66, who filed for the race about a week before Fox, said in a statement that he aims to “preserve and protect our freedoms” if elected. He noted that he swore when he was commissioned in the U.S. Air Force to protect the nation from enemies, and said after seeing the events of Jan. 6, 2021, he wanted to do something to protect democracy.

Luna, 34, won the seat in 2022, beating Democrat Eric Lynn with about 53% of the vote. Long seen as a swing district, redistricting in 2020 made the 13th District more red. Despite that, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has put the seat on its target list.

Luna has made a name for herself as a freshman in Congress as part of a conservative rebellion against the more moderate wing of the party. Before she was even sworn in, she was part of a group of Republicans who refused to vote for Kevin McCarthy to be speaker.

In a text message, James Blair, a spokesperson for Luna, said “Rep. Luna looks forward to all three Democrats explaining to voters why they are so keen to rubber stamp Biden’s out-of-control spending that is costing the average American over $700 a month in purchasing power just to pay for handouts to liberal special interest groups and perpetual foreign wars.”

Correction: Due to a reporter’s error, a previous version of this article incorrectly identified the number of Democrats running.