Special election: Republican Curt Clawson courts chance to serve in Congress

Scott McIntyre/Staff Curt Clawson addresses the crowd at his election party at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point in Bonita Springs after officially winning the special election for Congressional District 19 Republican congressman on Tuesday April 22, 2014.

Scott McIntyre/Staff Curt Clawson addresses the crowd at his election party at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point in Bonita Springs after officially winning the special election for Congressional District 19 Republican congressman on Tuesday April 22, 2014.

Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, (@Jenna_Buzzacco)

About a year ago, Curt Clawson was wading in the Gulf of Mexico with his dad off the coast of Bonita Springs.

The water was murky, so dirty they couldn’t even see their feet. Disgusted, his father urged him to do something.

He listened and started talking with folks about local development and water issues. He chatted with Bonita Springs City Council members, and when trouble started brewing in U.S. House District 19, Councilman Peter Simmons urged Clawson to consider a congressional bid.

“There was no scheme. There was no plan. Until then, I never considered it as something I could do in my life or become a contender,” the 54-year-old Bonita Springs Republican said. “Had I not gotten active in those debates, it’s very possible I don’t take the second step into the congressional fray.”

Clawson is one of four people running in the congressional District 19 special election to replace former U.S. Rep. Trey Radel. Gov. Rick Scott set the special election in January to fill the seat. The Fort Myers Republican resigned in January, two months after pleading guilty to possession of cocaine charges in a Washington, D.C., courtroom.

The June 24 special election will fill the remainder of Radel’s first term.

“I decided to run because I feel that it’s a good time for more business outsiders in the legislative process and I still feel that way,” he said. “I think that diversity of experience can be a good thing for Congress.”

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