Freshman Florida Republican Rep. Anna Paulina Luna (born Anna Paulina Mayerhofer) is a lot of things—apparently a lot of conflicting things.
Although Luna is a MAGA conservative and the first Mexican American woman elected to Congress from the Sunshine State, friends who served with her at Whiteman Air Force Base in Warrensburg, Missouri, told The Washington Post she described her cultural identity as everything from Middle Eastern to Jewish to Eastern European.
While Luna’s a staunch gun rights advocate who’s argued for the right of House members to carry firearms to committee meetings and boycotted an invite to a White House reception because of COVID-19 restrictions, friends say she supported President Barack Obama.
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“She would really change who she was based on what fit the situation best at the time,” a roommate who lived with Luna for six years during her time in the military told the Post.
Born in 1989, Luna legally changed her name when she ran for Congress—an homage to her mother’s Mexican heritage, the Post reports.
According to her website, Luna was “[r]aised by a single mother in one of Southern California’s low-income neighborhoods,” and she has said repeatedly that her mother had “no family to rely on.” A cousin and several family members told the Post, however, that Luna was regularly at family gatherings and they had support from plenty of extended family.
“The whole family kind of raised her—my dad was a part of her life when she was younger, and we all kind of coddled her,” Nicole Mayerhofer, one of Luna’s first cousins, said.
According to Luna’s campaign website, her father, George Mayerhofer, who died last year in a traffic accident in Florida, suffered from drug addiction and “spent time in and out of incarceration,” and her “communication with him during these times was through letters to jail and collect calls.” The Post was unable to locate any public records of charges or prison sentences in California to verify that claim.
Also, on the website is a claim by Luna that “by age nine,” she “experienced an armed robbery and survived,” and as an adult, she “was the victim of a home invasion.”
According to the Post, a roommate at the time of the “home invasion” says she has no memory of it.
Luna has said that while she identifies as Christian, “she was raised as a Messianic Jew by her father.” “I am also a small fraction Ashkenazi,” she told Jewish Insider.
George Mayerhoffer’s father, Heinrich Mayerhofer (Luna’s grandfather), was a German immigrant to Canada who served in the Nazi German forces as a teenager in the 1940s, the Post reports.
Luna’s mother, Monica Luna, told the Post that she’d never known that Luna’s grandfather had Nazi ties. Several of Luna’s cousins say the lore about their Nazi grandfather was well-known in the family and that the man even talked openly about it.
“Yes, [my grandfather] did grow up that way, but when he decided to come to America and live here, even though he tried to remember where he came from, he was accepting of people of different races and religions — he was not antisemitic,” Nicole Mayerhofer told the Post.
Sarah Longwell is a longtime Republican strategist and prominent never-Trumper. Her podcast, The Focus Group, is a peek at the thousands of hours of focus groups she has conducted all across the country. Sarah comes on to give her thoughts about the state of the current Republican Party and why its future remains bleak.