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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Onward to Florida's next divisive special election



South of Pinellas County, the next special election is gaining momentum.

The race for the 19th Congressional District seat occupied by former Rep. Trey Radel is getting nastier by the day and already two Super PACs have emerged. The spending won't come anywhere close to the more than $12 million in Sink-Jolly -- the Fort Myers area seat is decidedly GOP country -- but it illustrates the rising influence of outside money. One Super PAC is supporting Paige Kreegel, a former state legislator, and another appears to be on the side of state Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto.

The wildcard is Curt Clawson, a wealthy former auto industry executive who has spent big already on TV commercials. A recent St. Pete Polls survey showed Clawson, who is branding himself an outsider, leading Benacquisto 38 to 32.

Records show $690,000 has already been spent on the race, with $440,000 coming from outside groups.

The primary is April 22.

[Last modified: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 1:17am]


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