Rep. Radel will resign later today, Politico reported this morning. The AP confirms:
BREAKING: Spokesman says U.S. Rep. Trey Radel of Fla. will resign after pleading guilty to cocaine possession.— The Associated Press (@AP) January 27, 2014
It is curious that he would return from a 30-day stint in rehab pledging to finish his congressional term only to resign a month later. Might these be reasons why? From National Journal:
Rep. Trey Radel, who pled guilty to buying cocaine in D.C. last year, will resign from Congress today, his office confirms.
The Florida Republican went to a rehabilitation center for about a month after his arrest and pledged to return to the House. He also faced a House Ethics Committee investigation for the misdemeanour charge.
"I love what I do," Radel said when he returned from rehab. "And I'm going to return to what I do, what you sent me to do in Washington, D.C — which is working for you and your family."
Some Florida Republicans -- including Gov. Rick Scott -- have called on Radel to resign, and he faced a primary challenge in Paige Kreegel, a Florida state lawmaker. Radel hadn't announced whether he planned to seek reelection.
Perhaps repeated calls from prominent Republicans to resign forced his hand, or perhaps he didn’t want to face the public humiliation of a House Ethics Committee investigation. Either way, it seems there’s a special election on the horizon in Ragel’s deeply red congressional district (via WaPo):
Radel comes from a heavily conservative district where Mitt Romney won more than six out of 10 votes in 2012. His exit is expected to trigger a competitive GOP primary contest. A former TV news reporter, Radel won 30 percent of the primary vote in a crowded 2012 field.
Former state Rep. Paige Kreegel (R), who won about 18 percent of the vote in the 2012 primary, already filed papers to run. Other possibilities include state Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto (R) and former congressman Connie Mack (R).
The 19th district runs from Fort Myers down to Naples.
If there is a special election -- and we don't know if there will be -- the district is expected to stay red. We'll see.