Meet the Candidates In The GOP Special Election Primary To Fill Trey Radel's Seat

Apr 18, 2014

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On April 22nd, Southwest Floridians will elect a Republican nominee in a contentious special congressional election. The primary will likely decide this solidly Republican area’s next member of Congress representing district 19, which includes portions of Lee and Collier Counties. 

Congressional district 19 was vacated earlier this year by Trey Radel, who plead guilty to cocaine possession late last year.

The Candidates:


Name: Lizbeth Benacquisto 

Residence: Fort Myers, FL.

Political Offices Held: Elected to Florida Senate in 2010. Current Florida Senate Majority Leader.

Occupation: Realtor; Marketing and Special Events Consultant

Policy Priorities: Cut regulations, lower taxes.

Bio: Benacquisto rose to a leadership position in the Florida Senate relatively quickly since getting elected. In her time as a state lawmaker she’s tackled water quality issues and sponsored legislation that made it illegal to protest at military funerals. She is the only candidate who currently holds political office in this race.


Name: Curt Clawson

Residence: Bonita Springs, FL.

Political Offices Held: None.

Occupation: Retired CEO

Policy Priorities: Reduce the deficit and the size of the federal government.

Bio: Clawson—a political unknown—used to be CEO of a major tire supplier. He ran the company during tough economic times nationwide, which meant massive layoffs and two bankruptcies during his tenure. However, Clawson made a lot of money during his time in the private sector. He is now spending some of that wealth on his pricey political campaign.

Credit Dreikorn For Congress Facebook page.

Name: Michael Dreikorn

Residence: Bookelia, FL.

Political Offices Held: None.

Occupation: Owns consulting firms; Former aerospace and defense industry official.

Policy Priorities: Reducing the federal deficit and entitlement reform.

Bio: Dreikorn is the only candidate that has worked in Washington before. He once held an executive job in the Federal Aviation Administration. In that position he oversaw the U.S. Civil Aviation System. Dreikorn is currently president of the Bokeelia Civic Association and has private sector experience working in the aerospace and defense industry.


Name: Paige Kreegel

Residence: Punta Gorda, FL.

Political Offices Held: Elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2004. Term limited out in 2012.

Occupation: Medical Doctor

Policy Priorities: Repealing or defunding the Affordable Care Act.

Bio: This is Kreegel’s second time running for this seat in Congress. He lost the GOP primary in 2010 to Trey Radel. He’s been a practicing physician for 30 years and worked on a lot of health care-related legislation during his eight years in the Florida Legislature. Kreegel also owns a citrus farm in Punta Gorda.

The winner of this Republican primary will run against Democratic candidate April Freeman for the June 24th general election.