Curt Clawson’s surprise announcement that he would not run for another term has set off a mad dash to replace him. Clawson did not do anyone any favors in his timing as potential candidates have until June 24 to get in the race. So far, Chauncey Goss and Francis Rooney have jumped in the Republican primary while Matt Caldwell and Paige Kreegel, who ran twice before, are contemplating entering the field.
Goss and Kreegel might not be alone in running again for the spot. Byron Donalds who also ran in 2012, could be back for another try but he’s currently running for a state legislative seat. Michael Dreikorn, who ran in the Republican primaries for both Congress and the state Senate in 2014, could also be in the mix. While there had been speculation that Connie Mack and Trey Radel could try to make political comebacks, that talk has quieted.
Some potential candidates have already said they won’t run. Lizbeth Benacquisto, who came in second behind Clawson in the Republican primary in the 2014 special election, has said she won’t make a second bid. Also staying out of the race is Dane Eagle.
But there’s a good chance someone comes out of nowhere to win the Republican primary. Clawson and Radel pulled off big wins when they ran for this seat with no political experience. It’s certainly possible a business leader with no background in politics could emerge and win in the Republican primary. Still, it could be more challenging this time out than it was for either Radel or Clawson. Francis can certainly self fund though he doesn’t have the outsider credentials which helped propel Radel or Clawson to Congress.
Whoever wins the Republican primary at the end of August should be headed to Congress.Valencia Larose is running on the Democratic side but this is a district where Republicans win handily. Clawson easily ran off in both the 2014 general elections, taking 67 percent in the special election in June and 64 percent in November.