Tea Party victory in FL GOP primary
Curt Clawson, former CEO of an aluminum wheel company, won the GOP primary in Florida to replace the disgraced Rep. Trey Radel, who resigned after pleading guilty to a cocaine posession.
Clawson was supported by major Tea Party groups, including Tea Party Express, as well as being endorsed by Rand Paul and Michele Bachmann.
Clawson received 46 percent of the vote, according to Naples News. “The results tonight were clear, Curt Clawson's Tea Party message of economic growth and fiscal responsibility resonated with the voters of Southwest Florida," said political strategist Sal Russo of the Tea Party Express, which was one of the first Tea Party groups to support Clawson.
"It was exactly that kind of platform that fueled Republican victories in 2010 and 2012, and we’re starting 2014 with another decisive victory here tonight. Curt’s success sends a clear message to candidates across the country: you win elections by campaigning in bold colors, not pale pastels, as President Reagan once famously said."
The race divided national Tea Party icons, though, as Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., backed Clawson while former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin endorsed Florida state Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, who received about 26 percent of the vote.
Clawson, a former CEO "who put at least $3.4 million into his campaign" according to Politico, also received the endorsement of Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.
Tea Party Express co-founder Amy Kremer resigned last week as chairman of the group, just as the organization planned to campaign in Florida on Clawson's behalf, saying that she preferred to focus on Matt Bevin's challenge to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
"I've wanted to move in a different direction for awhile, but also wanted to make sure that any change I make was also a positive change for the conservative movement," Kremer wrote in a Facebook post.
An impressive show of organizational clout by the Tea Party, who endorsed early and got their people to the polls on election day.
The district is heavily Republican and Clawson is expected to breeze to victory over his Democratic challenger April Freeman in November.