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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

How long can Trey Radel hang on?

Rep. Trey Radel leaving court this morning

Associated Press

Rep. Trey Radel leaving court this morning



Rep. Trey Radel, who pleaded guilty this morning to buying cocaine from an undercover cop in Washington, lived in the second-to-second world of Twitter. So he should not be surprised at how quickly people have begun sizing up his seat.

Republican consultants were pondering a special election in the immediate aftermath of the news yesterday and floating names, including former Rep. Connie Mack, who held the seat before Radel. Mack would still be there had he not challenged Sen. Bill Nelson.

""It is important that we all appreciate the very personal nature of Trey's situation," Mack said in a statement last night, "and understand that it is premature to respond to or consider political questions at this time."

Today, predictably, Florida Democrats called on Radel to resign. "Congressman Trey Radel's conduct is an embarrassment to his district and to the state of Florida," said Florida Democratic Party Executive Director Scott Arceneaux. "The issues facing Florida and our country are too serious."

But more worrisome for Radel is the background talk among Republicans. Surely some of the Republicans Radel beat in the primary would be interested. And what about state Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, a formidable fundraiser and known figure.

Time will tell.

RPOF Chairman Lenny Curry didn’t sound especially supportive. “I’m deeply disappointed in Congressman Radel’s choices. I am glad that he is seeking help,” he said in a statement. As far as stepping down goes: “It is between him and his family.”

Radel says he needs help and that he wants to remain in office. "I want to come out of this stronger," Radel said in court, later adding that he wants to "continue serving this country."

[Last modified: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 12:03pm]


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