Former Punta Gorda state Rep. Paige Kreegel, a Republican doctor who ran in a crowded 2012 primary won by Trey Radel, said he might challenge the congressman again after the political newcomer was busted in Washington for cocaine possession.
"He either has to have the decency to leave office or he'll have to wait until the voters throw him out," Kreegel said.
Does that mean you'd run?
"I'm not opposed to it," Kreegel said. "But it's early."
But there are already calls for Radel to step down. And he has scheduled a deadline-busting 10:30 p.m. press conference.
If Radel stays in, he's sure to have a GOP opponent. Though redemption is a favorite narrative in American politics, cocaine possession might not play so well in the conservative Southwest Florida district. Republican Mitt Romney beat President Obama in District 19 by 21.8 percentage points, and Radel beat his Democratic opponent, Jim Roach, by 26.2 points.
This seat is decided in GOP primaries, where values voters and conservatives might not appreciate a congressman who parties in DC with 3.5 grams of cocaine (which he bought off a federal undercover agent).
Radel won the 2012 primary with 30 percent of the vote. Chauncey Goss, son of former U.S. Rep. Porter Goss, got 21.5 percent, came in second. Kreegel was third (17.7percent) followed by former state Rep. Gary Aubuchon (15.5) and Joe Davidow (1.4 percent).
Asked about that race, Kreegel said of Radel: "First he was cyber-squatting on domain names of his opponents. He denied it. Then he admitted it and blamed someone else. Then it was reported he had pornographic websites, which he denied, and then admitted while blaming some underling at his business. What's the next shoe to drop? We shall see."
"It would have been for the voters to know before they elected him that he has a long-term alcohol and cocaine problem."