Curt Clawson won the GOP special primary for the House of Representatives held on Tuesday, April 22nd. The historically conservative District 19 in Florida decided to go against the norm this round and vote in the Washington “outsider.” Other front-runner candidates included physician and former state representative Dr. Paige Kreegel, as well as Lizbeth Benacquisto, who is the current State Senate Majority Leader in Florida.
The Florida Department of State Division of Elections reported Clawson as winning 38.25 percent of the votes. Benacquisto had 25.68 percent, while Kreegel came close behind in third with 25.3 percent.
Clawson came onto the scene as the self-professed “Outsider for Congress.” His political ads ranged from basketball court scenes where he challenged President Obama to a game, to even his mother discussing about how she instilled values in her son Curt. Despite some of the public’s reception of the ads as being somewhat corny, voters decided that the “outsider” was more genuine in the end compared with the experienced politicians. With a low overall congressional rating by Americans, such a move isn’t a surprise.
Throughout the short campaign, Clawson was challenged by the other front-runners through allegations of unethical conduct in his business and personal life. One of the most prominent attacks was through a news conference about Clawson’s former childhood friend and business partner, who is a registered sex offender in the state of Utah. In a shocking move, Clawson attended a press conference led by Benacquisto and Kreegel that was intended to discuss the scandal. Here Clawson attempted to clear the air by stating that he was unaware of the incident—in fact, the victim’s family made a statement asking the other candidates to stop using their story for political gain.
District 19’s general election is scheduled for June 24, 2014 where voters will choose between Clawson and Democratic candidate April Freeman as their new congressional representative. This special election was ordered to replace former Representative Trey Radel, who resigned during his first term after a cocaine-buying incident with undercover police was discovered. District 19 comprises of Florida’s southwest coast from Fort Myers to Marco Island.