FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) - Curt Clawson has taken the early lead in the District 19 special Republican primary to replace a southwest Florida congressman who resigned after a cocaine arrest.
Clawson had 44 percent of the vote in Tuesday's four-way race, ahead of Paige Kreegel, who had 33 percent. Lizbeth Benacquisto had 17 percent and Michael Dreikorn had 5 percent as early voting numbers and mail-in ballots were tallied.
The winner of the primary will face Democrat April Freeman and Libertarian Ray Neatherwood as well as write-in candidate Timothy Rossano in the June 24 special election.
District 19 is a solidly Republican district.
The special election was called when Rep. Trey Radel resigned in January after being arrested for buying cocaine.
The 54-year-old Curt Clawson is the former CEO of an aluminum wheel company.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Clawson has raised $2.8 million. Benacquisto has raised about $980,000, while Kreegel has raised $236,000 and Dreikorn, $17,000.