William Braddock, facing injunction order, drops out of congressional race

William Braddock has terminated his campaign for Florida’s 13th Congressional District after fellow candidate Anna Paulina Luna obtained a temporary stalking injunction against him.

Braddock’s campaign filed a termination report on June 18.

Braddock is facing injunctions he received June 11 that were filed by Luna and Erin Olszewski, a nurse and conservative speaker. A St. Petersburg Police Department report looking into reported threats Braddock made found no probable cause for arrest, but detailed a 30-minute-long phone call where Braddock appears to be recorded without his knowledge saying he has access to Russian and Ukrainian “hit squads.”

“If the poll says Luna’s gonna win, she’s going to be gone, she’s going to disappear,” Braddock says on the recording. “For the good of our country, we have to sacrifice the few.”

Reached by phone Tuesday, Braddock said he dropped out because he wanted what was best for the public and said he hopes other Republicans will jump into the race.

Braddock said he’d be open to getting back into the race in the future but is going to focus on business interests for now. He said the injunction factored into his decision to drop out.

“I can’t work with certain people when they see things like that of me in the news,” said Braddock, 37.

Hearings to determine whether the temporary injunctions are made permanent or dismissed are scheduled for Sept. 14.

A spokesperson for Luna did not return a text and a phone call Tuesday afternoon.

Florida’s 13th Congressional District, which covers southern Pinellas County, is currently represented by Charlie Crist, who is running for governor and leaving the seat. With Braddock dropping out of the race, Luna is the only Republican currently running.

Among Democrats, State Reps. Ben Diamond and Michele Rayner and former Obama administration official Eric Lynn have announced runs. Christian Hotchkiss, a service representative at Macy’s Inc., is also running as a Democrat. Frank Craft, a business owner, is running as a Libertarian.

When Luna filed her petition for an injunction, she said she had been contacted with information that Braddock was planning to kill her. She said that, based on the information she received, Braddock had said he was working alongside other political rivals Matt Tito and Amanda Makki. Tito has said he is considering a run for the 13th Congressional District. Makki lost to Luna in the 2020 primary for that seat.

On Tuesday, Tito sent a letter to Luna demanding a public apology for including his name in her injunction.

The St. Petersburg police investigation said there was “no reason to believe that Tito was conspiring to kill or do physical harm to Luna.”

“Whatever Braddock chose to say, or not, in private is out of my control and has no connection to me,” Tito wrote in the letter to Luna. “You are the source of this vile public smear. In the event that you elect not to do the right thing and apologize, I will be forced to consider a defamation suit with discovery to begin immediately.”

In June, Makki’s attorney, Robert D. Eckard, sent a letter to Luna’s counsel demanding they either send all evidence supporting the claim that Makki was involved in the conspiracy or issue a retraction and apology. Makki said Tuesday she and her attorney never got a response from Luna’s counsel.