At Least One Lawmaker Considering Running For Trey Radel's Seat

Jan 27, 2014

19th District Congressman Trey Radel, who officially resigned at 6:30 p.m. Monday.
Credit U.S. House of Representatives

Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto (R-Ft. Myers) says she’s considering running in the special election that will be held to replace Congressman Trey Radel (R-19th).

Radel’s seat will come open after the congressman was convicted on federal drug charges after federal agents sold him cocaine in Washington, D.C. He’d originally pledged not to step down, but sent letters Monday to U.S. House Speaker John Boehner  (R-Ohio), Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner and Governor Rick Scott announcing he’d heed calls to resign.

There are six current members of the Florida Legislature who live in Radel’s district. Two of them, Rep. Ray Rodrigues (R-Estero) and Rep. Dane Eagle (R-Cape Coral), confirmed Monday they would not seek Radel’s seat. Rodrigues says he prefers working in Tallahassee to the prospect of working on Capitol Hill.

“I just really enjoy what I’m doing now. I enjoy the service I can provide on a state level. I think I can be very effective on a state level, and frankly I think that out state government is functioning on a much higher level than our federal government,” Rodrigues says.

Eagle says he’d support Benacquisto’s candidacy, but discounted the notion it’d be bad for taxpayers to also pay for an election to fill her state senate seat if she moves to Congress.

“To say that a sitting legislator shouldn’t run when they would probably be the best candidate for the job, I wouldn’t agree with that," he says. "I would want the best capable person to jump in and fight for that spot.”

WFSU contacted State Senator Garrett Richter (R-Naples) and State Reps. Heather Fitzenhagen (R-Ft. Myers) and Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) to see if they planned to run for the seat, but got no response Monday.