FORT MYERS — U.S. Rep. Trey Radel, R-Fort Myers, who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drug possession charge that stemmed from when he bought cocaine from an undercover federal agent, has resigned from Congress.
A television and radio host in his first term in Congress, Radel spent nearly a month in a rehab facility after he pleaded guilty to the charge Nov. 20 in Washington, D.C. He stated publicly that he wouldn't resign, and he returned to Washington and Congress after the winter recess.
But Radel, in a resignation letter sent today to House Speaker John Boehner and Florida Gov. Rick Scott, says “unfortunately some of my struggles had serious consequences. While I have dealt with those issues on a personal level, it is my belief that professionally I cannot fully and effectively serve as a U.S. Representative to the place I love and call home, Southwest Florida.”
Scott now has the authority to schedule a special election for Radel's seat, which covers the 19th district. Radel defeated five other Republicans who vied for the seat vacated by Connie Mack in the primaries in August 2012, including former state representatives Gary Aubuchon and Paige Kreegel. Radel went on to defeat Democrat Jim Roach in the general election in November 2012.
Kreegel, according to the website Politico, has already launched a campaign for the seat and state Rep. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, a rising Republican leader, is also expected to run. Even Mack, who unsuccessfully tried to unseat U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in 2012, is considering a run at his old seat, the website says.