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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Benacquisto enters race to replace Trey Radel



Florida Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, officially declared herself a candidate for Florida's 19th Congressional District after sending strong signals for weeks that she would.

"After careful consideration and with the full support of my family, I know that this is the best way for me to continue to serve Southwest Florida," she said in a statement.

The seat was vacated by Trey Radel, who resigned after being busted buying cocaine in Washington. Benacquisto, who made the rounds in Washington last week, joins a growing field of Republicans, including Paige Kreegel and Curt Clawson. The primary is April 22. Below, the letter Benacquisto wrote announcing her decision:

Dear Friends,

Today I am announcing my candidacy to be your next Representative from the 19th Congressional District.  After careful consideration and with the full support of my family, I know that this is the best way for me to continue to serve Southwest Florida. My decision follows thoughtful dialogue with my friends, business leaders and the incredible people of this community. The encouragement I have received from our community to take on this challenge has been both humbling and inspirational.

With your support and trust, it has been an honor to serve as your voice in the State Senate, where we balance our budget and pay our debts. I have continued to work hard every day to keep that trust. In just three short years, I have taken on special interests and fought to bring meaningful change to Tallahassee. Most importantly, as a tireless advocate for our shared conservative values, I have worked to protect individual liberty, reduce the size of government, and support free market solutions.

We are a nation founded on the liberties that can only come from our Creator. Our Founders, divinely inspired, took up a cause for which they risked everything including their own lives. Today that spirit still burns brightly in many of us, but it is threatened by a system of cronyism and special interests that ignore self-evident truths.

For the sake of my two children and yours, I will solve the problems that politicians - Democrats and Republicans alike - ignore. This means we must return control of our education system to the local level and to the parents who can chart the best course forward for their families. We must repeal the disastrous experiment called Obamacare and put an end to "government knows best" healthcare. Additionally, because of the threat it causes to our national security and America's future, we must stop piling debt upon our children and future generations by spending more than we have. The time for strong and principled action is now.

If you honor me with your vote and your trust, each and every day I will fight for the principles that guided our Founders. I will respect the trust you place in me, and I will serve you with a dignity that reflects our shared commitment to getting Florida and our great nation back on the road to prosperity.

Throughout this campaign I look forward to visiting with you in your neighborhoods and hearing your thoughts, concerns and ideas to help shape our future.  There’s no doubt that special interests and those who want bigger government will challenge our values in this campaign, but I know that by working together, we can bring common sense back to the people's House. The things we value most are worth fighting for, and I would be honored to have you join our team.

God Bless,

Lizbeth Benacquisto

[Last modified: Monday, February 3, 2014 11:04am]


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