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No. 24 on the list of Tampa Bay’s Most Powerful Politicians: Anna Paulina Luna

The freshman U.S. Representative has quickly developed relationships and clout in Washington.


Two years after losing to a Democratic incumbent, U.S. Rep. Anna Paulina Luna won a seat in Congress in 2022 despite being massively outspent. She arrived in Washington having flipped a seat and ready to shake things up on the Hill.


In her first term, the St. Petersburg Republican has done just that, tackling taboo topics like UFOs, quickly ingratiating herself with the House Freedom Caucus and applying significant pressure on the Army Corps of Engineers on beach renourishment in Pinellas County.


Luna still likely has a fight on her hands as she seeks a second term two years after flipping Florida’s 13th Congressional District red despite facing an avalanche of Democratic spending. But leaders in Florida’s congressional delegation said she has quickly established herself as an influential House member.


“Congresswoman Luna is extremely hardworking and one of the best messengers we have in the delegation,” said U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, GOP Co-Chair of the Florida congressional delegation.


“She’s a conservative warrior who is unafraid to take on the hard battles. We’re very fortunate to have her on our side.”


If she wins re-election and Donald Trump returns to the White House, her influence could grow. She has closely aligned with some of the staunchest supporters of the Republican ex-President and presumptive 2024 GOP nominee and was part of a cadre of House members who recently showed up in a New York courtroom to show support.


But against expectations, the conservative firebrand also developed strong relationships across the aisle. That was on full display last Fall, when she worked closely with U.S. Rep. Jared Moskowitz, a Parkland Democrat and fellow Floridian, to push for a congressional hearing into unexplained aerial phenomena, a preferred term on the Hill over the sci-fi-associated “unidentified flying objects.”


Such aircraft have been surveilled by U.S. service members and made public by whistleblowers from the Department of Defense, including some at Eglin Air Force Base. However, the federal government has often shrouded discussions in secrecy. As a member of the House Oversight Committee, she became one the faces in Congress for a bipartisan push for declassification.


From the same Oversight perch, she’s also developed a reputation as a conservative firebrand ready to deliver accountability on members of President Joe Biden’s administration. That included a recent call to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in “inherent contempt of Congress” for refusing a subpoena to testify to lawmakers. She also has called for defunding a Special Counsel investigation of Trump, though to no avail.


“Congresswoman Anna Paulina Luna has quickly established herself as a political force in Congress,” said Matt Blair, managing partner of Corcoran Partners. “She knows the rules and process and has demonstrated an ability to build consensus in her party to get things done.  She pays close attention to issues important to her constituents — from beach renourishment to improve services for Veterans — and she is delivering for her constituents. Her commitment to her district paired with her ability to be effective inside the chamber ensures that her influence will only grow.”


The freshman Representative has suffered losses. She found herself at odds with Speaker Mike Johnson over high-profile topics such as limiting the authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and providing funding to Ukraine.

But despite a close association with sharp critics of House leadership, Luna has managed to avoid being present for either vote on removing a Speaker. That included last year’s successful ouster of Kevin McCarthy, when Luna was out on maternity leave as when U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Fort Walton Beach Republican, made a fateful motion to vacate. She also wasn’t casting any votes the day that U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican, tried unsuccessfully to remove Johnson.

This has allowed her to remain a reliable spokesperson for America First critics of Congress on the right without drawing the wrath of Washington conservatives.

The political messaging draws the cable outlets, but Luna has also kept a close eye on district issues. Most notably, she has fought hard for the Army Corps to move ahead with renourishing beaches, even threatening the agency’s funding over foot-dragging as officials seek 100% buy-in from property owners with public access easements.

In December, the House passed a Luna measure putting the Army Corps on notice to advance the Pinellas project and other Florida disaster mitigation efforts.

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Methodology

We define the Tampa Bay region as Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco, but can also include Hernando, Polk or Sarasota — if the politicians from those counties impact either Pinellas or Hillsborough.


We define a politician as being in office or running for office.


Being first on a panelist’s list earns the politician 25 points, second earns them 24 points and so on, to where being listed 25th earns a politician one point. Points are added and, voilà, we have a list.


Special thanks go to our experienced and knowledgeable panelists, who were essential to developing the 2024 list: Christina Barker of the Vinik Family Office, Ashley Bauman of Mercury, Matthew Blair of Corcoran Partners, Ed Briggs of RSA Consulting, political consultant Maya BrownRicky Butler of the Pinellas Co. Sheriff’s Office, Reggie Cardozo of The Public Square, Ronald Christaldi of Schumaker, Ana Cruz of Ballard Partners, Justin Day of Capital City Consulting, Barry EdwardsJoe Farrell of Pinellas Realtors, pollster Matt Florell of Vicidial Group, Shawn Foster of Sunrise Consulting Group, Adam Giery of Strategos Group, political consultant Max GoodmanMike Griffin of Savills, Natalie King of RSA Consulting, political consultant Benjamin KirbyMerritt Martin of Moffitt Cancer Center, Mike Moore of The Southern Group, political consultant Anthony PediciniRon Pierce of RSA Consulting, J.C. Pritchett, pastor of St. Pete’s Faith Church, Darren Richards of Tucker/Hall, Preston Rudie of Catalyst Communications Group, Amanda Stewart of Johnston and Stewart, and Alan Suskey of Shumaker Advisors. With Michelle and Peter Schorsch.

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