Curt Clawson likely to replace former Rep. Trey Radel in Congress

Curt Clawson via Facebook

Odds are Republican businessman Curt Clawson will become the newest member of Florida's congressional delegation after winning Tuesday's Republican primary in a special election for state's 19th district.

The seat was vacated by Republican Trey Radel, who resigned from Congress in January after pleading guilty to possession of cocaine and attending a 28-day treatment program.

Clawson received 38 percent of the vote in a four-way Republican primary, according to the Associated Press, 12 points ahead of the nearest contender,state Sen. Lizbeth Benquisto. The other two candidates, former state Rep. Paige Kreegel and Michael Dreikorn, received 25 percent and 11 percent of the vote, respectively.

Though Benacquisto carried the heft of an endorsement from former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, Clawson had a huge money advantage with $2.9 million to Benacquisto's $980,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Clawson was also endorsed by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

In his victory speech Tuesday night, he urged the party to move past what had been a bitterly negative campaign filled with allegations of connections to child sex offenders and questionable business dealings.

"We have done to each other what we should not have done," Clawson said, according to the Fort Myers News-Press. "But we need to start supporting each other ... You are welcome here."

He will face Democrat April Freeman and Libertarian Ray Netherwood in the June 24 general election, but the 19th district leans heavily Republican and all signs point to an easy victory for Clawson.

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for