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Calls for Trey Radel's Resignation Grow Louder

November 24, 2013 - 6:00pm

In just one week, Trey Radels once-brightly burning political star has fallen. What once was a promising career in national politics seemed to be at its end last week after word broke that the Fort Myers congressman had been arrested for possession of cocaine.

Calls for Radels resignation began as soon as the media got word of his arrest. Some were from Democrats, but voices that have grown louder have been from Radels own political kin.

Although Radel decided to take a leave of absence from Congress, its uncertain whether his political career can recover. Radels inner circle is growing smaller -- two of his staffers jumped ship and headed to Endeavor Strategic Communications.

Republicans in Radels hometown of Fort Myers havent been shy about their disappointment over his actions and have been demanding that he step down as their representative in the House.

"These actions have violated the trust of those whom he was elected to represent and fall short of the standards for an elected official -- especially a member of the United States Congress," said statements from the Lee and Collier County Republican executive committees.

"His actions clearly disqualify the pursuit of another term, and if he should run for re-election he would not enjoy our support," they continued. "We feel it is in the best interests of all involved that he resign immediately.

Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry also called for Radels resignation. Last week, Curry had said he was disappointed in Radel but was glad he was seeking help.

"The people of Floridas 19th Congressional District need a congressman who is 100 percent focused on the needs of Southwest Florida," Curry said in a statement on Monday. "Therefore, Congressman Radel should step down and focus his attention on rehabilitation and his family.

Radel did not specify when hed be returning from rehab, but the series of unfortunate events and the growing resistance for Radel to leave office put an extreme pressure on him.

Meanwhile, talk of a special election to replace Radel is growing. Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto, former U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, and Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-Lehigh Acres, and Chauncey Goss have all been mentioned as potential candidates in a match-up to take Radels seat. Libertarian Ray Netherwood has already declared his interest in the seat as well.

Political analysts had speculated last week that Radels political future was a dead-end road -- and it appears theyre correct. With the growing outcry over his arrest and an underlying distrust of the Republican congressman, only time will tell how long Radel can hold out and keep his spot in Congress.

Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen atallison@sunshinestatenews.comor follow her on Twitter at@AllisonNielsen.

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