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Trey Radel Returns to Capitol Hill as Rivals Ramp Up for November

January 7, 2014 - 6:00pm

U.S. Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., returned to Capitol Hill on Wednesday, two months after he sought treatment after being arrested for cocaine possession. Radel pled guilty to a misdemeanor before entering rehab.

Radel met briefly with the media on Wednesday to apologize for his actions.

"I cannot express how sorry I am, Radel said. I ask for your forgiveness. I've let down our entire country. I have let down my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. I've let down my family."

Radel also met with his House Republican colleagues and spoke to them, asking for their foregiveness

It felt good to talk with them, Radel said. It felt good, it really did. I know theres still a long way to go with my country and constituents and, especially, with my family, but it felt good.

Despite calls for Radel to resign from the likes of the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) and Gov. Rick Scott, the freshman congressman showed no signs of stepping down though he told the media that seeking another term was the last thing on my mind.

While Radel continues putting off a decision about seeking another term, he will be facing a primary as former state Rep. Paige Kreegel announced earlier in the week he would run again for the seat. Radel won the Repubican primary for the open congressional seat in 2012 with 30 percent while Kreegel placed third with 18 percent. Kreegel launched a super-PAC to help his campaign last week. Logistics specialist and Army veteran Brian Gibens is also running in the Republican primary.

In the meantime, Florida Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Wellington, is also generating buzz as a possible congressional candidate. In recent days, Benacquisto released a television ad pointing to her record in the Senate as a trusted voice who fights for conservative values.

The new ad is technically for Benacquistos re-election efforts, though what office she is seeking is not mentioned in it.

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The Benacquisto campaign is making a major buy with the ad, sinking $40,000 in television spots around Southwest Florida.

There is also speculation that former U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fla., could seek to return to the seat. Mack gave up the seat in 2012 to unsuccessfully challenge U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.

While the district is considered solidly Republican, April Freeman, a community activist, is seeking the Democratic nomination.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

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