Trey Radel Resignation Starts Scramble for Safe Republican Seat

The intra-party squabble was already in progress before Radel prompted a special election.

Rep. Trey Radel, R- Fla., is interviewed in the Capitol Hill office in Washington D.C. 
National Journal
Scott Bland
See more stories about...
Scott Bland
Jan. 27, 2014, 4:06 a.m.

Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., plans to resign from Con­gress on Monday, set­ting off a spe­cial elec­tion for his seat in south­w­est Flor­ida.

In some ways, though, that race had already star­ted, with al­lies of two po­ten­tial suc­cessors snip­ing over the air­waves and in the press. And that’s even be­fore former Re­pub­lic­an Rep. Con­nie Mack, who could try a comeback, has made his in­ten­tions known.

Radel’s Fort My­ers-based 19th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict is heav­ily Re­pub­lic­an, and that already-in-pro­gress primary is where the ac­tion will be. Paige Kree­gel, a former state rep­res­ent­at­ive who fin­ished third to Radel in the 2012 primary, had ready de­cided to run again after Radel was charged with and pleaded guilty to co­caine pos­ses­sion. And two of Kree­gel’s donors have seeded a new su­per PAC with $1 mil­lion to back him in 2014.

Mean­while, state Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Lizbeth Ben­ac­quisto has said she is think­ing about run­ning for her loc­al con­gres­sion­al seat, and she has also be­gun “heavy spend­ing” on in­tro­duct­ory, bio­graph­ic­al TV ads, us­ing her state Sen­ate cam­paign fund. That led to the pro-Kree­gel su­per PAC, “Val­ues Are Vi­tal,” go­ing on TV with its own ads cri­ti­ciz­ing Ben­ac­quisto’s man­euver, which in turn promp­ted the state Re­pub­lic­an Party to send a cease-and-de­sist let­ter to the loc­al TV sta­tion air­ing the ads.

That sum­mar­izes the Janu­ary activ­ity for a filled con­gres­sion­al seat with an Au­gust primary. Now that Radel is leav­ing the seat open — prompt­ing an ac­cel­er­ated spe­cial elec­tion — the pace is sure to get even more fren­zied.

Flor­ida Gov. Rick Scott’s of­fice will set the spe­cial elec­tion date soon; Scott and loc­al au­thor­it­ies took less than two weeks after late Rep. Bill Young died in Oc­to­ber to set the date for the elec­tions to name Young’s suc­c­cessor. The primary for that race took place on Janu­ary 14, just un­der three months after the seat be­came va­cant.

Oth­er Re­pub­lic­ans, in­clud­ing one former rep­res­ent­at­ive who might have an in­side track, have also ex­pressed in­terest in the con­gres­sion­al seat. Mack, who left the safe seat in 2012 to make an un­suc­cess­ful run for the Sen­ate, sent out sev­er­al state­ments while the spot­light was on Radel last year, and he re­portedly con­tac­ted sup­port­ers to set up a re­turn trip to the House. Chaun­cey Goss, the son of former Rep. Port­er Goss who fin­ished second in the 2012 primary, said in Novem­ber he was con­sid­er­ing an­oth­er bid.

What We're Following See More »
A DARK CLOUD OVER TRUMP?
Snowstorm Could Impact Primary Turnout
1 days ago
THE LATEST

A snowstorm is supposed to hit New Hampshire today and “linger into Primary Tuesday.” GOP consultant Ron Kaufman said lower turnout should help candidates who have spent a lot of time in the state tending to retail politicking. Donald Trump “has acknowledged that he needs to step up his ground-game, and a heavy snowfall could depress his figures relative to more organized candidates.”

Source:
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
A Shake-Up in the Offing in the Clinton Camp?
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

Anticipating a primary loss in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Hillary and Bill Clinton “are considering staffing and strategy changes” to their campaign. Sources tell Politico that the Clintons are likely to layer over top officials with experienced talent, rather than fire their staff en masse.

Source:
THE LAST ROUND OF NEW HAMPSHIRE POLLS
Trump Is Still Ahead, but Who’s in Second?
1 days ago
THE LATEST

We may not be talking about New Hampshire primary polls for another three-and-a-half years, so here goes:

  • American Research Group’s tracking poll has Donald Trump in the lead with 30% support, followed by Marco Rubio and John Kasich tying for second place at 16%. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders leads Hillary Clinton 53%-41%.
  • The 7 News/UMass Lowell tracking poll has Trump way out front with 34%, followed by Rubio and Ted Cruz with 13% apiece. Among the Democrats, Sanders is in front 56%-40%.
  • A Gravis poll puts Trump ahead with 28%, followed by Kasich with 17% and Rubio with 15%.
IT’S ALL ABOUT SECOND PLACE
CNN Calls the Primary for Sanders and Trump
16 hours ago
THE LATEST

Well that didn’t take long. CNN has already declared Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump the winners of the New Hampshire primary, leaving the rest of the candidates to fight for the scraps. Five minutes later, the Associated Press echoed CNN’s call.

Source:
×