Republicans Tout Endorsements and Pro-Life Positions in CD 19
Around the State
With a week to go in the Republican primary to replace former U.S. Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., in Congress, the three leading candidates spent the first half of this week looking to reinforce their conservative credentials by touting out endorsements and showcasing their pro-life stances.
Businessman Curt Clawson unveiled two major endorsements this week. On Monday, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., announced that he was backing Clawson who takes on Florida Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, and former state Rep. Paige Kreegel in the primary on April 22.
"Washington is desperate for outside leadership,” Paul said on Monday. “Curt Clawson is an outsider who will bring refreshing ideas to the halls of Congress. Today, I proudly stand with Curt Clawson in his quest to restore fiscal stability and common-sense government. Curt will stand with me in defending the Constitution. I urge the voters of Florida’s 19th Congressional District to send Curt to Washington. Our nation needs new leadership and the first step in the right direction would be electing Curt Clawson.”
"Having the leading voice for freedom, liberty and the United States Constitution in the United States Congress come on board our campaign cannot be overstated," Clawson said. "I am truly grateful for the support of Sen. Paul and if elected will join him in the fight to restore fiscal order in Washington. Simply put, this is the biggest day yet of this campaign.”
Paul was the Senate sponsor of the “Penny Plan,” an idea floated by former U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fla., to reduce the size of the federal government by 1 percent each year until the budget is balanced. Mack, who held the seat before Radel, is backing Clawson who supports the “Penny Plan.”
Clawson also reeled in the endorsement of the Eagle Forum, a conservative group led by longtime activist Phyllis Schlafly. Pat Andrews, who leads the Florida Eagle Forum, praised Clawson on Tuesday.
"Rarely do conservatives in Florida's Congressional District 19 have an opportunity to send a strong leader to Washington,” Andrews said. “With the United States having a less-than-bright financial future ahead of us, it's more important than ever to choose leaders that have a history of inspiring vision and decisive implementation.
"After vetting all of the candidates and weighing their past history with their goals and performance as leaders, Curt Clawson is the only candidate with true measurable, leadership experience combined with a well-thought-out, executable plan for our country," Andrews added. “Curt's plan has the elements that conservatives have demanded on both the state and federal level for years, but have seen little action from our elected officials. It includes reforming our corporate tax code to make America competitive; restoring budget discipline; giving flexibility to states for Medicaid; reforming our burdensome regulatory processes; and repealing Obamacare.”
But Benacquisto has been touting her own endorsements, including those made by former Gov. Sarah Palin, R-Alaska, and former Gov. Mike Huckabee, R-Ark. ABC News ran a story on Tuesday on Palin’s endorsements so far in 2014 and found Benacquisto to be one of only nine Republicans with the former vice presidential candidate’s endorsement.
“After spending time with Lizbeth, her family and supporters, I’m even more convinced that she is the one who can help clean up Washington and restore integrity to our political process,” Palin posted on her Facebook page earlier this month when she campaigned with Benacquisto. “In this race, like every other, it’s imperative you sift through flashy ads and consultant-driven rhetoric and really get to know your candidates. Floridians who know Lizbeth witnessed her work ethic and adherence to conservative principles while serving in state office. She’s proven her commitment to cutting taxes, balancing budgets, developing resources, and letting the private sector roar to life. She walks the walk in respecting the sanctity of innocent life and defending those most vulnerable. All Americans will benefit as Lizbeth takes those needed principles to D.C.; she'll not forget it is ‘We the People’ who sent her to serve.”
As she spent a the day on the campaign trail, Benacquisto looked to stress both her fiscal and social conservatism.
“I’ve served three years," Benacquisto noted of her time in Tallahassee. “In each of those -- as we will this year -- we cut taxes because Florida families deserve to keep more of their hard-earned money.”
Benacquisto also highlighted her social conservatism, showcasing her “A” rating from Florida Right to Life for her time in Tallahassee and vowed to continued fighting against abortion.
“As a mom, protecting life is my greatest priority and I am honored to receive an 'A' rating from Florida Right to Life,” Benacquisto noted late on Monday.
But Benacquisto wasn’t the only candidate in the race to get high marks for standing against abortion. Kreegel pointed to his “A” rating from Florida Right to Life during his time in Tallahassee and insisted he would continue the fight against abortion if he wins the special election.
"If elected, I will continue to safeguard the rights of the unborn by way of pro-life policies,” Kreegel said on Tuesday.
With Tuesday marking Tax Day, the Kreegel camp noted that in 2009 their candidate helped found the Tea Party Caucus in the Florida House.
Whoever wins the Republican primary next week will be a heavy favorite over Democrat April Freeman and Libertarian Ray Netherwood in the June 24 election.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.