Rep. Trey Radel will resign from Congress on Monday, just weeks after returning from a leave of absence forced by a guilty plea to cocaine possession and a stint in a rehabilitation clinic
The Florida Republican plans to send a letter of resignation to House Speaker John Boehner, saying, "it is my belief that professionally I cannot fully and effectively serve as a United States Representative to the place I love and call home, Southwest Florida," Politico reported Monday
citing multiple sources.
Radel, 37, had been facing a House ethics committee investigation
, after the once-popular freshman lawmaker was caught in October buying 3.5 grams of cocaine in a Washington, D.C. restaurant from an undercover federal agent.
The seemingly sudden decision to resign will trigger a special election for Florida 19th District seat, the timing of which will be determined by the state's GOP Gov. Rick Scott.
Republicans with knowledge of the race anticipate a late spring or early summer special election, according to The Washington Post
Although the timing of Radel's exit caught many by surprise, it had nonetheless been expected.
The Republican committees in the two largest counties in the district, Lee and Collier, unanimously called on Radel to resign, as did Scott.
"He had to go," 19th District Republican Chairman Gary Lee told Newsmax.
Lee also said reports of a comeback bid by former congressman and 2012 Senate candidate Connie Mack IV were "exaggerated."
In a statement, reported by The Associated Press on Monday, Mack wished the congressman's family well and hinted at a possible bid, saying Radel's resignation was "the right decision."
"Now it's time for Southwest Florida to elect a new Congressman who will be a tireless champion of our shared mainstream conservative values," Mack said, according to AP.
With details of the special election to be determined, the leading contenders for the all-important GOP primary are expected to be former U.S. House staffer Chauncey Goss, son of former 19th District Rep. Porter Goss and second-place finisher to Radel in the 2012 primary, and state Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto. In addition, former state Rep. Paige Kreegel has already launched a campaign, and a super PAC funded by his friends has pulled in more than $1 million, according to the Post.
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