Voters to decide GOP nominee in Florida special election

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April 21, 2014


By Jennifer Springer

Fort Meyers, Florida: Tomorrow voters from Florida's 19th Congressional District will go to the polls to decide the Republican nominee in the special election to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Rep. Trey Radel (R).[1][2][3] Polls are open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.[4]

Radel was arrested in the District of Columbia on October 29, 2013, for possession of cocaine.[5] On November 20, 2013, Radel announced that he would take a leave of absence in order to enter a substance abuse treatment facility in Florida.[6][7][8][9] On January 27, 2014, Radel announced his resignation from Congress.[10][11]

On the Republican ticket, former Honeywell and American Can Company executive Curt Clawson is running for the first time against state Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto, former state Rep. and physician Paige Kreegel and businessman Michael Dreikorn.[12] Clawson has led in polls conducted in the district.

In just a few months of the campaign, Clawson spent $2.26 million, compared to a combined $1.1 million spent by Lizbeth Benacquisto, Paige Kreegel and Michael Dreikorn.[13][14]

The Values Are Vital PAC spent nearly $353,000 supporting Kreegel and on attack ads and mailings opposing Clawson and Benacquisto. The Liberty and Leadership Fund, which supports Benacquisto, spent $477,000 in the campaign, mostly on TV broadsides and mailers against Curt Clawson Clawson.[13]

National GOP leaders are split on the race. Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum, the Tea Party Express, and Rand Paul have all endorsed Clawson, while former Govs. Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin have endorsed Benacquisto.[15][16][17][18][19][20]

Florida's 19th Congressional District is solidly Republican.[21] The special election has a projected cost of $1.5 million.[22]

The winner of the primary will advance to the general special election to take on Democratic nominee April Freeman, Libertarian candidate Ray Netherwood and write-in candidate Timothy Rossano on June 24, 2014.[2]

The winner of the special election will face re-election in 2014, with the primary scheduled for August 26, 2014, followed by the November general election.

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External links


  1. Politico, "Trey Radel to resign House seat," accessed January 27, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 Miami Herald, "Special election scheduled to fill Radel's seat," accessed January 31, 2014 (dead link)
  3. National Review, "Rep. Trey Radel to Resign; Special Election Expected," accessed January 27, 2014
  4. Florida Secretary of State, "Frequently Asked Questions - Voting - What Times," accessed January 3, 2014
  5. Politico, "Rep. Trey Radel charged with cocaine possession," accessed November 19, 2013
  6., "Rep. Trey Radel to take leave of absence, enter drug treatment," accessed November 21, 2013
  7. Washington Post, "Rep. Trey Radel of Florida to take leave of absence after guilty plea to cocaine charge," accessed November 21, 2013
  8. The Hill, "Rep. Radel leaves rehab, won't say if he'll seek re-election," accessed December 20, 2013
  9. Talking Points Memo, "Radel To Return To Congress, Undecided On 2014," accessed December 23, 2013
  10. Politico, "Trey Radel to resign House seat," accessed January 27, 2014
  11. NY Daily News, "Trey Radel to resign from Congress after cocaine scandal," accessed January 27, 2014
  12. News Max, "'Outsider' Clawson Leading in Florida GOP House Primary," accessed April 21, 2014
  13. 13.0 13.1 NewsMax, "'Outsider' Clawson Leading in Florida GOP House Primary," accessed April 19, 2014
  14. News Press, "Curt Clawson outspent rivals in Florida District 19 primary race," accessed April 19, 2014
  15. Shark Tank, "Tea Party Express Steams Towards Endorsing Curt Clawson For Congress," accessed April 21, 2014
  16. Tea Party Express, "Tea Party Express proudly endorsing Curt Clawson for Florida’s 19th Congressional District," accessed April 21, 2014
  17. Sunshine State News, "Republicans Tout Endorsements and Pro-Life Positions in CD 19," accessed April 19, 2014
  18. Biz Pac Review, "Florida Five: Benacquisto scores another national endorsement, Film-incentive program revamped," accessed April 8, 2014
  19. Tampa Bay Times, "Sarah Palin endorses Benacquisto in congressional race," accessed March 31, 2014
  20. Biz Pac Review, "Sarah Palin endorses fellow ‘mama grizzly’ Lizbeth Benacquisto for Fla. CD19," accessed March 31, 2014
  21. Politico, "Trey Radel to resign House seat," accessed January 27, 2014
  22. NBC News, "Vacant congressional seat costly to Southwest Florida," accessed January 30, 2014