ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A former political rival of a Republican Florida congressional candidate made repeated violent threats to “take her out,” even claiming he could summon a Russian and Ukrainian hit squad to kill her, according to trial testimony Tuesday.
The civil trial concerns whether a temporary restraining order granted to candidate Anna Paulina Luna should be made permanent, which would prevent 2020 GOP primary rival William Braddock from having contact with her. A friend of Luna's, Erin Olszewski, also sought a permanent restraining order against Braddock.
Luna testified that she had only brief in-person contact with Braddock at a political event but heard from several acquaintances last spring that he was allegedly making threats to have her killed.
“Mr. Braddock clearly hated my guts and wanted to hurt me,” said Luna, who is an Air Force veteran and media consultant. “I started getting very afraid of him. It was horrifying, and it still is.”
“I think he's an evil person,” she added. “I think he has definitely emotionally terrorized me.”
Braddock, a former Marine who has denied any wrongdoing, had been running again in Florida's 13th congressional district this year but dropped out in July citing publicity from the stalking case.
Braddock could testify later in the trial, which is before Pinellas County Circuit Judge Doneene Loar. After a full day of testimony, Loar continued the case until Sept. 24.
Luna is a candidate again for the seat being vacated by Democrat Charlie Crist, who is running for governor. Former President Donald Trump endorsed Luna on Tuesday, just as he did in her unsuccessful 2020 campaign against Crist.