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Curt Clawson wins GOP primary for vacant Florida U.S. House seat

Clawson, who billed himself as the outsider in the race, will be heavily favored to win June’s special election

♦By Rich Shumate, editor

florida mugFORT MYERS, Florida (CFP) — Curt Clawson, a wealthy businessman and former basketball star at Purdue University, has won the Republican primary for the vacant 19th District U.S. House seat in Florida.

Republican nominee Curt Clawson

Republican nominee Curt Clawson

Clawson, 53, making his first bid for political office, defeated two veteran officeholders, State Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto and former state Rep. Paige Kreegel. Although Clawson claimed just 38 percent of the vote, he won the nomination without a majority because Florida does not have primary runoffs.

“I think we sent a pretty clear message tonight, and I think it’s a good time for an outsider or two in Congress,” Clawson said at his victory rally April 21.

Both Clawson and Benacquisto had big name endorsements — Clawson from U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and Benacquisto from former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

The 19th District, which is centered in Fort Myers and runs along the coast of southwest Florida, is heavily Republican, which will make Clawson will be a heavy favorite in the June 24 special election over Democrat April Freeman, who was unopposed for her party’s nomination.

The seat became vacant in January when first term U.S. Rep. Trey Radel resigned after pleading guilty to cocaine possession.

Clawson played on Purdue’s 1984 team that won the Big 12 Championship


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