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Republican Primary Foes Go Right in CD 19

March 18, 2014 - 7:00pm

The Republican candidates looking to replace former U.S. Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fla., in Congress looked to garner conservative support this week as they ready for the April 22 primary.

The team behind Florida Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, showcased her opposition to giving the children of illegal immigrants in-state tuition in Florida. At a Senate Education Committee meeting on Tuesday, Benacquisto voted against a bill from Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, which would offer in-state tuition for children of undocumented immigrants. The bill passed on a 5-4 vote.

While campaign staff and volunteers are working hard here in Southwest Florida to share Lizbeths proven record of fighting for our shared conservative values, Lizbeth is hard at work in Tallahassee keeping her promise to fight any attempts to incentivize illegal immigration, her campaign informed supporters in an email sent out on Tuesday night. Today, she voted against SB 1400, a bill that would subsidize the college tuition of undocumented immigrants.

While Benacquisto looked to win conservative support from her vote on Tuesday, one of her rivals unveiled the endorsement of a prominent national tea party group at an event in Bonilla Springs on Wednesday.

The Tea Party Express announced on Wednesday it was backing businessman Curt Clawson in the Republican primary.

It doesnt get more outsider than to have the Tea Party Express get behind our effort here in Southwest Florida, Clawson said. Today our campaign has become a movement for change and gives the voters of the 19th District an ability to add their voice to the growing caucus for major change in Washington. I will be honored to serve alongside those individuals like our own Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Rand Paul who were backed by the tea party. The tea party is passionate, like me, to grow our economy and cut federal spending and I am the only candidate in this race who has presented an economic plan to bring our country back from financial ruin.

In the meantime, former state Rep. Paige Kreegel is looking to win conservatives with his opposition to President Barack Obamas health-care law. Kreegel, a medical doctor, has argued that his background helps shape his opposition to the law.

Kreegel insisted Obama needs to stop pulling funds from Medicare Advantage to fund the health-care law.

He needs to realize that seniors are the backbone of our health care system and deserve better access to and lower costs for prescription medication, Kreegel insisted about Obama earlier this week. We cannot continue to cut the Medicare and Medicare Advantage programs to fund the financially irresponsible Affordable Care Act.

Whoever wins the primary will face Democrat April Freeman and Libertarian Rey Netherwood in the June 24 general election.

Reach Kevin Derby at

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