And then there was one... less. One less potential candidate, that is, for the Fort Myers-based congressional seat vacated Monday by Trey Radel amid a cocaine scandal.
In a statement this morning, Radel's predecessor and friend, Connie Mack IV, said he wouldn't run in what could become a bitter primary involving former state Rep. Paige Kreegel and potential candidate and state Senate Republican leader Lizbeth Benacquisto:
“Trey Radel’s resignation from Congress has put Southwest Florida at the beginning of a new and important political chapter.
“I spent my tenure in Congress fighting for Southwest Florida’s shared conservative values and for the fundamental belief that freedom is the core of all human progress.
“I introduced new policy ideas, like the Penny Plan, that would balance the budget in a common-sense responsible way. I always stood for principle over politics, even on controversial issues like Arizona’s immigration law. And I did all I could to stand up for the rights of people in Venezuela and elsewhere against the dictators and thugocrats who oppress them in ways few Americans can truly understand.
“These have always been my passions. They always will be. In the weeks, months and years ahead I will continue to advocate for our shared principles,not as a candidate or Member of Congress, but rather as a private citizen. And I will do all I can to support candidates in Southwest Florida and elsewhere who champion the Penny Plan.
“I hope the people of Southwest Florida will join with me in ensuring we elect a new Representative who will represent us with the passion and grace our community and our country needs, and who will be an unwavering defender of the simple idea that freedom matters because freedom works.”