GOP Candidates Fight for the Right in CD 19
Around the State
Republicans running in an open congressional race in Southwest Florida attempted to highlight their conservative strength on Wednesday as they gear up for the April primary. The seat was vacated by former U.S. Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., who resigned from Congress after pleading guilty to possessing cocaine.
The Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) Candidate Fund, a pro-life group, announced Wednesday it is backing Florida Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, in the race.
“As we ramp up our efforts for the 2014 election cycle, this race is a critical opportunity to send an articulate, strong pro-life woman to Washington ahead of schedule,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the group. “Women are uniquely qualified to defend the dignity of human life. Benacquisto beautifully embodies the legacy of Susan B. Anthony and the early suffragettes. The SBA List is proud to get behind state Sen. Benacquisto as she seeks to represent Florida women and families.”
In the meantime, businessman and former college basketball star Curt Clawson promised earlier this week to deliver a “game changer” at a media event on Wednesday which would “unite the team of conservatives who are looking for an outsider to represent us in Congress.”
Clawson announced the endorsement of businessman and conservative activist Byron Donalds who ran in the Republican primary in 2012 but lost out to Radel. Donalds, who had opened the door to running again in 2014, placed fifth in a six-candidate field taking 14 percent of the primary vote back in the 2012 primary.
“I voted for Byron Donalds in 2012 because he has leadership qualities that are unique in Southwest Florida and frankly across the country,” Clawson insisted on Wednesday. “That's why I am so grateful for his support today and why I look forward to working with him to inspire constitutional conservatives who are looking for an outsider with business experience and conservative principles.”
Former state Rep. Paige Kreegel, who placed third behind Radel and ahead of Donalds in the Republican primary back in 2012, continued to stress his conservatism this week. Kreegel is presenting himself as a “strong conservative” who opposes President Barack Obama’s agenda including the federal stimulus from 2009 and the president’s federal health-care law. Kreegel’s campaign is showcasing its candidate’s background as a doctor to stress his credentials in taking on the health care law.
“Fighting the Obama agenda is important to preserving our Southwest Florida values,” Kreegel insisted on Tuesday.
Other candidates running in the Republican primary, which will be held on April 22, include aviation consultant Michael Dreikorn, businessman and veteran Mike Giallombardo, businessman and veteran Brian Gibens and businessman Timothy Rossano. Whoever wins the Republican nomination can expect to take on community activist April Freeman, who is running as a Democrat, and Libertarian Ray Netherwood, an Air Force veteran who ran for Congress back in 2010 in the general election on June 24.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.