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‘MAGA’ candidate should challenge this Tampa Republican

‘MAGA’ candidate should challenge this Tampa Republican
In a potential escalation of his simmering feud with Gov. Ron DeSantis, President Donald Trump called for a loyalist to run against Tampa area U.S. Rep. Laurel Lee later this summer.

Lee, a first-term representative whose district covers parts of Hillsborough, Pasco and Polk counties, was the only Republican member of Florida’s congressional delegation to endorse DeSantis for president over Trump last year. When DeSantis dropped out of the race in January and endorsed Trump, Lee followed suit.

But Trump doesn’t appear to have forgiven the original slight.

“Any great MAGA Republicans looking to run against Laurel Lee in Florida’s 15th Congressional District?” the former president posted to his social media site Truth Social Sunday night. “IF SO, PLEASE STEP FORWARD!”

No challenger for Lee has filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission, according to its website. A potential Republican primary would be Aug. 20.

However, hours after Trump’s post, former state Rep. Jackie Toledo of Tampa, who previously ran for the seat in 2022 only to lose to Lee, indicated that she would run.

“Great MAGA Republican answering the call and ready to serve… #MAGA” Toledo posted to X along with a picture of her in a Trump cowboy hat.

Before she was in Congress, Lee served as Florida’s secretary of state, overseeing elections in the DeSantis administration.

A Trump spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a question about whether the former president’s move against Lee is a direct result of his strained relationship with DeSantis.

But since DeSantis began to make noise about running for president, there has been no love lost between the two men.

And since DeSantis left the race for president, he’s gone out of his way to comment on the former president at times. He reportedly told supporters he would not serve as Trump’s running mate in 2024, and said Trump and his team were weighing “identity politics” as they made their pick. He called this a “mistake.”

DeSantis also said he would veto a bill providing taxpayer funded legal aid for Trump during the legislative session. The legislation was withdrawn by its sponsor soon thereafter.

DeSantis’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Neither did Lee’s.

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