Curt Clawson Wins GOP Congressional Primary
Around the State
Republicans in conservative Southwest Florida hit the polls in Tuesday's primary to find a replacement for former U.S. Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., and selected businessman Curt Clawson.
Clawson prevailed over Florida Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, former state Rep. Paige Kreegel and conservative activist Michael Dreikorn. Radel resigned earlier this year after pleading guilty to cocaine possession.
Spending more than $2 million of his own fortune to blanket the district in television ads, Clawson, a manufacturing executive and former college basketball player at Purdue, billed himself as an outsider, even as he reeled in the support of big-name Republicans like U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and former U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fla., who held the seat before unsuccessfully running for the U.S. Senate in 2012.
Clawson played up the outsider theme on Tuesday as he declared victory. "I got into this race because I felt we needed more outsiders in Congress," he said. "The career politicians aren't getting the job done."
With more than $6 million spent in the primary, Clawson portrayed his opponents' attacks against him as "wrong," "dishonest" and "personal" during his victory speech. Clawson called for all Republicans in the district to come together and urged the national GOP to embrace more "outsiders" and "constitutional conservatives."
During the campaign, Clawson said he backed Mack’s “Penny Plan,” which calls for reducing the cost of the federal government by 1 percent each year until the budget is balanced. Clawson also touted his business credentials and contrasted his lack of experience in elected office to Benacquisto’s and Kreegel’s terms in office.
Benacquisto also touted some major endorsements including those of former Gov. Sarah Palin, R-Alaska, former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark., and members of the region’s legislative delegation in Tallahassee.
Clawson will take on Democrat April Freeman and Libertarian Ray Netherwood in the special general election on June 24. The district breaks heavily for Republicans and Clawson starts off the general election as a strong favorite.
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