The 33-year-old firebrand conservative, who proudly coins herself an “outsider,” spoke to The Daily Wire about her candidacy, her background and views, and former President Donald Trump, who endorsed Luna, during part one of our two-part interview.
“I am only doing this because we’re in deep trouble right now,” Luna told us about her congressional run.
“Initially, I realized that the media was a huge problem, that they weren’t being forthcoming with the American people about really what was happening at the border with immigration,” she said. “If I wanted to change the national discussion, I would have to do it as a legislator. I had to help change the national narrative by doing that.”
Luna lost by five points against former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist when she first ran for the same seat in 2020, though the congresswoman-elect says she was expected to lose by 17 points that cycle.
“I realized when I ran the first time how bad the swamp really is,” she explained. “And so I understood that candidates like myself are not supposed to win. You know, I’m not from D.C. — I haven’t served as a lobbyist; I’m not an attorney — not that there’s anything wrong with attorneys, but there’s just … a lot of people that groom their entire lives to do this. And those are the ones who usually are at the Hill, and a lot of what happens at the Hill is not really connected to the American people.”
Asked if she had long-prepared or groomed herself for politics, Luna gave off a laugh and quipped, “I would’ve done a lot of things differently.”
“You don’t know how it really works, right? So, you’re supposed to drive this car, but you don’t really know how the car drives,” Luna said, when asked about a disadvantage she had as an outsider. “The best way I can put it is that, you know, I had to work three times as hard to raise all of my money, because most of my funding came from grassroots donations; my [average] donation being $13. … There’s just certain money I won’t take, and I’m very vocal about that. So, you know, they tried to starve you out, basically.”
Her win this time around came with a big ground-game. “I was out-spent two-to-one in the primary, and then out-spent 12 million-to-one in the general election,” Luna said. “So, despite having them both collectively spend over $15 million against me, I still won. And that’s because I had a very strong grassroots infrastructure.”
Knocked 50,000 doors
Made 89,000 phone calls
Outspent 2:1 in primary
Outspent 12:1 in general
Today we made history.
My name is Anna Paulina Luna and I am going to be the next representative for FL-13!
Thank you Pinellas! I look forward to serving you in DC!
— Anna Paulina Luna (@VoteAPL) November 9, 2022
Luna, who’s of Mexican and German descent, didn’t have the easiest upbringing. On a campaign page, the conservative details her parents, though never married, separating when Luna was a young girl. Luna’s father, who died in January, suffered from addiction and was out of the picture during her childhood.
“It does influence how I look at things, especially from a legislation perspective,” Luna said of her past experiences. “Everything from gun rights, to what’s happening with immigration, to welfare: I look at it through a certain lens because I’ve had this very abnormal upbringing.”
“I’ll take gun rights for example,” she continued. “I survived an armed robbery, someone broke into my house while I was there; I had a gang shooting in one of the six high school campuses I attended. I never thought it was guns that were the problem, I thought it was people.”
“I grew up in California, so I was around a demographic of people who were largely involved in gang culture and targeted because of the fact that they were here illegally,” Luna said. “They’re forced to basically work in these shadows of society, and that’s not good for anyone. It hurts people on both sides.”
“I’m second-generation American,” Luna added. “My grandparents came here legally. … There’s a lot of good people that are waiting to come here and do it the right way. It’s just a different perspective, the way that I look at things.”
Luna had an unusual route to politics, too. She voted for the first time in 2016, for President Donald Trump — who would later endorse her for Florida-13. Before that, she wasn’t “politically awake,” yet. “I was raised in a Democrat household,” she told us.
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“What the media is trying to do is try to just say that I’m some influencer,” Luna told The Daily Wire. “The fact is, I’m a veteran.” Luna enlisted in the U.S. Military at 19 years old. Her husband, too, is a veteran. “I got into a medical school program and turned it down to work with Turning Point USA. They don’t like to talk about that. They just like to try to say that I was a model on Instagram, which would have been a heck a lot easier path-wise.”
Luna was volunteering with a counter-trafficking organization and using her platform “to shed light on what’s happening with immigration and border security,” when TPUSA’s Charlie Kirk reached out to her about making a political turn, she explained. Luna chose to “take a chance” and go the political route to give others a voice, she said. If things didn’t work out, medical school wasn’t going anywhere.
At the time we spoke to Luna, Trump had launched numerous attacks against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). Notably, both the GOP heavy-hitters backed Luna in her congressional run.
“I haven’t read any of [Trump’s comments],” Luna told us, asked directly about the attacks. “But what I can tell you is it’s very publicly known that President Trump supported me and I support him. And I haven’t heard that Governor DeSantis is running [in 2024], but you know, I’m a fan of Governor DeSantis, as well.”
Luna went on to defend Trump from attacks concerning midterm losses, too.
“I think it’s wrong for people to blame President Trump,” she told us. “And I say that as someone who has run a race as a candidate. I lost a race, then I won one, and I was grossly outspent and I worked really hard. And at the end of the day, real leadership — you have to remember President Trump is not in charge of running elections, okay? But at the end of the day, people have to accept responsibility for their failures, and those that are in charge leadership-wise have to accept responsibility for what has worked and what hasn’t worked.”
“What I can tell you is I hope to help candidates this next cycle set up a grassroots infrastructure so that they can secure their own wins,” Luna continued. “No one is going to ever give you Congress. You have to work for it, you have to earn it, regardless of what’s happening nationally, regardless of what’s happening financially. You have to be able to connect with your constituents in your districts and you can’t look to anyone else but yourself as to why your mission may or may not have failed.”
Can there be “MAGA” without Trump? Luna responded, “I think that President Trump is instrumental, and as you saw in the primaries, he’s instrumental in what it means to be ‘America First.’ I think the biggest threat that we’re seeing in our country right now is those that claim to care about the American people, but that are really working on behalf of, for example, China. And we’re seeing that out of the Democrat party and the Biden administration. And so, what I look for in a leader and what I look for in my own staff are people that are true believers to the cause.”
“I think that President Trump has done an incredible job from a policy perspective, and I appreciate his support; I appreciate Governor DeSantis’ support,” Luna added. “And I’ll leave it at that.”
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity