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Wild Primary After Florida's Rep. Clawson's Surprise Exit?

Image: Wild Primary After Florida's Rep. Clawson's Surprise Exit?
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Sunday, 22 May 2016 08:36 AM Current | Bio | Archive

A disgraced former congressman insisting he's rehabilitated, the son of a former CIA Director, and a two-fisted sheriff who resembles the venerable detergent mascot "Mr. Clean"could soon be competing for the Republican U.S. House nomination in Florida's now-open 19th District.

Forty-eight hours ago, Rep. Curt Clawson stunned observers from Sanibel Island to Washington DC with the announcement he was stepping down after less than two terms (he won a special election in 2013 and was re-elected a year later). With the Sunshine State's June 24 filing deadline barely a month away and the primary August 30, maneuvering was already under way this weekend.

First out of the box in the all-important GOP race was Sanibel City Councilman Chauncey Goss, son of former CIA Director Porter Goss (who himself was the 19th District's congressman from 1988-2006). A fiscal conservative and vigorous pro-free market advocate, the younger Goss also served as an official of the Office of Management and Budget and staff director of the House Budget Committee under then-Chairman (and now House Speaker) Paul Ryan, R.-Wisc..

Four years ago, even the family name and the endorsement and campaign assistance of Ryan were not enough for Goss to win a primary against the Republican who many in the local party fear will re-surface: Trey Radel, onetime TV anchorman, who was elected in 2012 after defeating Goss and several other primary opponents only to be arrested a year later for cocaine possession in a sensational bust that led to his resignation from Congress.

"I'm just afraid [Radel] is going to come out and say ‘Hey, I'm clean and want a second chance,'"former Lee County GOP Chairman Gary Lee told me on Saturday, "It would bring back a lot of bad press and bad memories our district doesn't need."

Radel, the first congressman ever to plead guilty to cocaine possession, completed a rehabilitation program for drug users and later had his conviction expunged. He lives in Fort Myers and has so far avoided reporters.

Lee is one of a group of area Republicans who say they will try to convince Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott to make the race for Congress. A former parole and probation officer, Scott, 53, has won three terms as the county's top lawman and is known for his tough talk on crime and shiny bald head.

"He looks just like ‘Mr. Clean' in the soap commercials,"said Lee, "and in this time of the war on terror and the critical importance of national security, someone with Sheriff Scott's credentials would be a major asset in Congress."

Others mentioned for the seat include the two runners-up to Clawson in the 2013 primary: State Sen. Lizabeth Benacquisto and physician and former state legislator Paige Kreegel.

Since it was created in 1971, the 19th District has always sent a Republican to Congress.

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John-Gizzi
A disgraced former congressman insisting he's rehabilitated, the son of a former CIA Director, and a two-fisted sheriff who resembles the venerable detergent mascot Mr. Clean could soon be competing for the Republican U.S. House nomination in Florida's now-open...
gizzi, curt clawson, florida, race, chauncey coss, trey radel
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2016-36-22
Sunday, 22 May 2016 08:36 AM
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