Fort Myers, Florida (News-Press) -- Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, 46, who climbed to majority leader in theFlorida Senate after only three years, announced today she will seek theU.S. Congressional seat in District 19, recently vacated by Rep. TreyRadel, who resigned after his cocaine arrest.
Benacquisto,R-Fort Myers, will seek to become only the 18th Republican woman as amember of Congress. But it will be a quick campaign - and one, she mayhave to do twice this year. The primary for the special election to fillRadel's seat for the remaining months of this term will be April 22,followed by the general election on June 24.
"People arecalling out for someone who can end the dysfunction in Washington,"Benacquisto said. The constituents that I have the honor and privilegeto serve, I truly care about them. We have been strong and resolute intheir encouragement and general push for me to lend my name forconsideration. That coupled with the fact that there are so manycritical issues in our country that effect our area have motivated me toserve in that capacity."
The winner will have to turnright around and campaign again since the primary election for theregular term is Aug. 26, followed by the general election on Nov. 4.
Benacquistowas long rumored to announced her candidacy for the district seat,which includes an area from Cape Coral to Marco Island. She was inWashington last week meeting with Republican leadership about a possiblerun.
She will remain in the state legislature throughout her campaign run.
Benacquistohas been a driver in healthcare, crime and water quality issues. Shesponsored and got passed the "Cancer Treatment Fairness Act," whichallows patients to receive access to live-saving oral chemotherapydrugs.
She has maintained an active leadership role inwater quality issues involving Lake Okeechobee releases and theirharmful effects on the Caloosahatchee basin. She understands the need tocontinue to work with the federal government to find the funding tofinish critical flow way projects as well as completing construction onthe Herbert Hoover Dike. She has been successful in increasing funds forPace Center for Girls and securing funds for FGCU's Innovation Hub. Herprior efforts resulted in the passing of the Andrew Widman Act to helpkeep repeat violent offenders off the streets.
She joins afield that includes former state. Rep. Paige Kreegel, who has alreadyannounced he will seek the seat, joining five other Republicans who havefiled election paperwork - Curt Clawson, Mike Giallombardo, BrianGibens, Timothy Rossano and Michael Dreikorn. Chauncey Goss, who lost toRadel in the primary in 2012, and former Congressman Connie Mack IVhave said they will not seek the seat.
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