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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Radel returns to Washington today in next phase of comeback attempt



Rep. Trey Radel today will begin the next phase of an attempted comeback, returning to work for the first time since he plead guilty in November to cocaine possession.

The Fort Myers Republican is expected to show up for votes this evening.

Radel, 37, appears to have concluded that resigning -- as top Florida Republicans want him to do -- would forever leave him in the political loser column. But he has only until August, when he'll face a GOP primary, to shore up his image. He's talking up his renewed commitment to church and the treatment he's undergone (though Radel is still playing down cocaine use and emphasizing his alcohol problem.)

He told Gannett that he is enrolled in an outpatient program in Washington and expects to be randomly tested for drugs and alcohol, as well as meet with a professional counselor. "I do look forward to getting back to work with a much clearer head and positive thoughts moving forward," he said. " I am extremely sorry for the heartache and pain that I've caused personally and professionally, and I'm going to work to make that up. I intend on having a successful year."

Radel faces possible action from the House Ethics Committee. In Florida, Radel will face a re-election challenge. He's drawn 2012 GOP rival Paige Kreegel as an opponent, and other Republicans are considering, including former Rep. Connie Mack. A Super PAC supporting Kreegel has already raised more than $1 million.

[Last modified: Monday, January 6, 2014 5:48pm]


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