Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 11, 2016

Self-Funding Republican Wins Primary in Race to Replace Trey Radel

Businessman Curt Clawson won the Republican nomination Tuesday night in the Florida special-election race to replace former Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., and he is now likely to be the district’s next member of Congress.

Clawson won with 38 percent of the vote, with 95 percent of precincts reporting at the time the Associated Press called the race. Finishing behind him were state Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto with 26 percent and state Rep. Paige Kreegel with 25 percent.

He will now face Democrat April Freeman in the June 24 special, where Clawson is heavily favored.

The tea party will likely claim credit for the win. Clawson overtly aligned himself with the conservative base of the party, but he also broke from the crowd thanks to his own self-funding. He loaned his campaign $2.65 million, according to his pre-primary Federal Election Report.

Clawson is one of several self-funding Republicans this cycle.

Benacquisto’s loss is another setback for “Project GROW,” an effort by House Republican women to shepherd female candidates through party primaries. Florida state Rep. Kathleen Peters was unable to emerge from another special-election primary this year. She, like Benacquisto, benefited from the support of members of Congress.

The seat’s vacancy was created by Radel’s resignation from Congress. He pled guilty to cocaine possession in November and resigned in late January.

The 19th District is based on the Gulf Coast and includes the cities of Fort Myers and Naples.

Related Story: 

Florida Special Election Winner Challenges President to 3-Point Contest

  • rsubber

    So, let’s call it what it is: Clawson bought this seat in Congress.
    Over $3 million was spent on TV ads by Clawson and outside PACs.
    This district is considered a “safe” district for Republicans.
    I wonder how much cash the voters of the 19th District ponied up to support
    the candidate of their choice?
    I wonder just who exactly this district is “safe” for?
    More on my blogs:

  • Michael Becker

    If Clawson follows through and is a Tea Party Congressman, he will represent the people. Certainly better than any Democrat or establishment Republican.

  • Yonatan YONATAN

    While this news might be of interest to many, the REAL news that’s not discussed lately, is the news about the more than two million unemployed workers, and their families, who have without their benefits since late December. These families have been treated terribly by the Republican party, and left hung out to dry, without any means of support. These Americans are not “Lazy”, or “unwilling” to seek employment. Most of them are “older workers” who worked for years paying into the system, in the hopes that help would be there for them, if they should need it. Unfortunately, after 26 weeks of benefits, they were abruptly shut off from that support. These workers have been seeking employment in one of the worse recessions in many years. Many companies are not willing to hire them, due to their age, and the higher insurance risk that might cost their bottom line. While the Republicans continue to play “party politics”, and continue using these workers as bargaining chips, and for political leverage, these families are facing evictions, home foreclosures, personal bankruptcy, and homelessness. This is REAL. These things are HAPPENING right now. The Republicans claim to be concerned about “budgetary issues” and “fiscal responsibility”, well at the same time supporting an aid package for the Ukraine worth BILLIONS of tax payer’s dollars. Why are they not “concern” or compassionate regarding their own people here in this country? Where’s their so called “family value system”? The Republicans have shown their contempt for the poor and disadvantaged in our country, and that they would win at any cost to make President Obama fail in the public’s eyes. This is their sole reason for being. Please SUPPORT these families. Call or write to your elected officials and demand that they ACT on behalf of these unemployed workers. DEMAND that they PASS the extension bill IMMEDIATELY in the senate.

  • brickman

    The Tea Party rejected the candidate that Sarah Palin endorsed.

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    Liberty and free markets do not stand against our natural social interaction and voluntary association, but against plunder’s injustice.

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    Standing against the injustice of plunder in no way implies that one regards advancement of the less fortunate as an unworthy cause.

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