Politics

Sarah Palin Takes Center Stage in CD 19 Special Election

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: April 4, 2014 3:55 AM
Lizbeth Benacquisto, Sarah Palin, Curt Clawson

Lizbeth Benacquisto, Sarah Palin, Curt Clawson

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin came down to Southwest Florida Thursday to help Florida Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, in the special congressional election to replace former U.S. Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla.

Palin was on center stage at a fundraiser for  Benacquisto at a private residence in Naples Thursday evening. The former Alaska governor, U.S. Sen. John McCain’s running mate on the 2008 Republican presidential ticket, endorsed Benacquisto last week.

“We have been lucky to visit Southwest Florida on several occasions and know it is one of the warmest places in the country,” Palin said in her endorsement. “The warmth comes not only from the sun, but also from the citizens. We met many dedicated patriots in Naples, Fla., on our recent book tour. They deserve better representation than what they've had recently. Lizbeth Benacquisto is the only proven conservative in the race. She served her constituents well, and has never forgotten who put her in office – the people. Lizbeth will take these values to Washington to fight for us all.

“Lizbeth Benacquisto is a proven conservative with an unwavering commitment to the principles of our founders and to the sanctity of life,” Palin added. “In the Florida state Senate she has a record that demonstrates a willingness to take on special interests and rein in the scope of government. A fierce advocate for her constituents, Lizbeth has introduced and pushed through legislation to protect our senior citizens.

“In particular, Lizbeth’s personal triumph over hardship and staunch defense of life is inspiring," Palin continued. “We need this fighter and advocate for women and innocent life in Washington!”

But Palin also threw a few jabs at Benacquisto’s chief rival for the Republican nomination.

“I admire and respect the good folks supporting other candidates in this race, but we’ll have to disagree on this one,” Palin said before taking aim at businessman Curt Clawson. “Lizbeth is running against a wealthy, self-funded candidate with lots of splashy campaign ads claiming to be a conservative. Since when do conservatives stand for crony capitalism and government bailouts? Please do your homework, voters. Look beyond the fancy anonymous campaign ads. Look at a candidate’s record, not just at their rhetoric. Lizbeth is a genuine conservative with a track record to prove it.”

But tea party leaders in the district backing Clawson in the primary are urging Palin to reconsider her endorsement. Jack Tymann of the Naples Tea Party, Kathy Jones of the Lee County Patriots, former congressional candidate Byron Donalds and other tea party activists wrote a letter to Palin on Wednesday. In the letter, the Clawson supporters insisted Benacquisto “demonized capitalism and an American success story” by attacking their candidate. They also accused Benacquisto of using “Obama-style campaign tactics.”

The tea party leaders insisted attacks on Clawson’s record in the private sector were unfounded and that their candidate was a conservative while maintaining Benacquisto was not.

“We recognize that around the country you prefer to endorse female candidates as part of your ‘mama grizzly’ efforts,” the Clawson supporters wrote Palin. “But, in this case, you have endorsed the moderate establishment candidate who is opposed by grassroots conservatives across Southwest Florida.”

Even as Clawson backers tried to get Palin to reconsider her endorsement, Benacquisto released a letter on Wednesday which only served to strengthen her conservative credentials. Marion Hammer of the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) and the United Sportsmen of Florida gave Benacquisto an “A+” rating on Second Amendment issues.

Trying to catch Benacquisto and Clawson in the primary, former state Rep. Paige Kreegel called for more transparency from elected officials when it comes to their personal finances.

"Too many in Washington use nonpublic information to increase their own personal wealth," Kreegel said on Thursday. "I hereby pledge, if elected, to place my investments in a blind trust for the duration of my congressional term. I'm calling on my opponents to make the same pledge.

"We should be voting with the best interests of our constituents in mind -- not those of our own personal stock portfolios," Kreegel added.

The candidates will meet in the April 22 primary. Whoever wins the Republican nomination will be a heavy favorite over Democrat April Freeman and Libertarian Ray Netherwood.



Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

Comments (7)

Mark
2:10PM APR 4TH 2014
Sorry folks but the so-called tea party (really no party at all) stinks. The majority are nothing more than interference to half decent government. Their way or the highway, right? Not a chance. Most voters have already written these lugheads off!
JC
7:57AM APR 5TH 2014
You are right - they aren't a party. They are everyday America people who believe the government is out of control. And they haven't gone away, how could they? If anything they have grown since Obamacare has been implemented - more people have realize that it is just another federal takeover and nothing to do with providing quality care or affordable prices.
Frank
7:39PM APR 5TH 2014
You're right . . . they aren't a party . . . they're an angry minority mob who believe in conspiracy theories like the UN is taking over the sovereignty of the U.S., creationism is science, Obama is an Islamic terrorist and climate change (and sea level rise) isn't happening . .

Pathetic . . . .
JC
9:29AM APR 4TH 2014
Benacquisto has the voting record, Clawson has a basketball! The only other possible conservative here is Dreikorn.
Harold Monoginslogin
7:14AM APR 4TH 2014
Benacquisto is really not that smart and she is arrorgant and a gold digger! Clawson will clean her clock in the special election and then we will be stuck with her in the Florida Legisature. She should just go back home to her sugar daddy and stay there!!
Brian
7:02AM APR 4TH 2014
Jack Tymann, Kathy Jones, Byron Donalds are all "Former Leaders." What that means is they either gave up on the movement, or could not lead as those groups no longer exist. So their so called "open letter" representing Tea Parties are nothing more than their self-centered opinions trying to prop up their diminishing worth.

Shows the character of Curt Clawson and the others for crying about who Palin decides to endorse. She has earned that right.
Kathy Jones
8:57AM APR 4TH 2014
You might ask the hundreds and hundreds of fellow patriots who receive my regular email newsletter, and exchange opinions with me on a daily basis, whether or not the Lee County Patriots group still exists! I, along with Jack, Byron, Erica and Jackie, continue to try to educate voters and truly believe that Americans making their voices heard can make a difference in preserving our freedoms.

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