Paige Kreegel files paperwork to run for Trey Radel’s seat

By on January 5, 2014

U.S. Rep. Trey Radel, returning to Congress after his guilty plea on cocaine possession in November, has now drawn a challenger for the Republican primary in August.

Former state legislator Paige Kreegel announced he is seeking the GOP nomination in Florida’s Congressional District 19, a Republican stronghold in the Fort Myers and Cape Coral area, reports Gregory Giroux of

Kreegel’s supporters recently formed a super-PAC for his candidacy, named “Values are Vital.” The committee’s leader claims to have raised more than $1 million from two donors who also gave to his 2012 campaign.

“We need accountability, we need experience, we need sobriety,” Kreegel said in an e-mail to Bloomberg, confirming his Federal Election Commission filings of declaration of candidacy and a statement of organization.

WBBH-TV, the Fort Myers NBC affiliate also reports Kreegel filed FEC papers.

“We need judgment,” Kreegel added. “It is NOT about Radel. It is about the 795,000 folks in the district. They deserve better.”

In 2012, Kreegel faced Radel in the Republican primary, finishing third in a field of candidates with only 18 percent of the vote.

Radel won the primary with 30 percent; Chauncey Goss was second with 22 percent. The seat opened when former Rep. Connie Mack left for an unsuccessful Senate run; both he and Goss are likely candidates for Radel’s seat in the Aug. 26 GOP primary.

While not saying he will seek a second term in the House, Radel resisted a number of calls from local Republican leaders for his resignation. After leaving a Naples rehab center Dec. 19, Radel is planning to return to work for the second session of the 133th Congress next Tuesday.

Radel pled guilty to cocaine possession in Washington D.C. on Nov. 20, the last time he voted in the House was Nov. 15.

“Undoubtedly, the first thing I have to do is restore a lot of trust and make amends, and only then can I return to what I love doing and what I was elected to do,” Radel said in a recent USA Today exchange.

Chairing “Values” is Florida developer Anthony Farhat, a Kreegel friend who also gave to his 2012 campaign. Farhat told Bloomberg he created the PAC so Republican voters will not “make the same mistake twice.”

A doctor and emergency physician, Kreegel said the problems with the Affordable Care Act “run much deeper than the website glitches.” The health-care law has been disruptive to residents in Southwestern Florida, Kreegel said.

“When the government distorts an existing market, there seem to be inevitable unforeseen consequences,” said Kreegel. “I feel that with my background, that I can be an asset and help with the process.”