Political newbie Curt Clawson easily won the Republican nomination in a Congressional race in Florida on Tuesday. Rep. Trey Radel vacated the seat after pleading guilty to drug charges last fall.
Clawson garnered 38 percent of the vote in the four-way race, ahead of State Sen. Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto, who had 26 percent. Former state Rep. Paige Kreegel received 25 percent and businessman Michael Dreikorn had 11 percent.
The 54-year-old former CEO of an aluminum wheel company will face Democrat April Freeman in the June 24 general election in the heavily Republican 19th district that saw more than 60 percent of its voters choose Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election.
"I got into this race because I felt like we needed more Outsiders in Congress. The career politicians aren’t getting the job done," Clawson said on his Twitter page. "And I don’t see a whole lot of people in Washington with the experience as a CEO in making the tough decisions to save our country."
Clawson loaned himself almost $2.7 million during the campaign, spending more than double
the combined amount of his three opponents.
But as the campaign grew more bitter he was attacked for doing business with a convicted pedophile. "I've learned about the ugly truths of negative campaigning in America today," Clawson said on Twitter. "These attacks weren’t a competition of ideas. They were personal. They were dishonest. And they were wrong. But we are past that. Now is the time to look forward to build a brighter future."
Benacquisto had gone into the race with the name recognition and boasted the backing of Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee. The former Alaska governor flew into the district centered on Fort Myers, to back her. But Clawson received the endorsement of Sen. Rand Paul some tea party groups who saw him as an outsider battling entrenched politicians.
Clawson grew up in Indiana and played basketball at Purdue University. His claims to fame at Purdue include making the first 3-point basket in school history and sinking two clutch free throws that clinched the 1984 Big Ten title. In one of his TV ads, Clawson challenged President Barack Obama to a 3-point contest.
Clawson billed himself as the "outsider for Congress" during the campaign. Recent polls showed he was the leading man heading into Tuesday's special election. If elected in June, he promises to fix the nation's economic problems by cutting taxes, helping to cut and balance the budget, and "reigning in out-of-control government," according to his website.
Clawson is particularly against the Affordable Care Act.
"We should repeal ObamaCare and start over with a new approach that ends denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions, that puts patients and doctors, not bureaucrats in charge of health care decisions, and which empower patients putting them in control of their health care dollars," his website reads.
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