Florida Republican Curt Clawson is heading to Congress after winning a special election today.
Clawson, a wealthy businessman, defeated Democrat April Freeman in early returns in Florida’s 19th District, which includes Cape Coral, Fort Myers and Naples. Clawson had 67 percent of the vote in incomplete returns, according to an Associated Press tally.
Clawson will succeed Republican Trey Radel, who resigned in January after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor drug possession charge.
Clawson’s victory was expected in Florida’s 19th, a Republican stronghold where President Barack Obama won just 39 percent of the vote in the 2012 election. The key contest was the Republican primary in April, in which Clawson used his personal wealth to outspend three opponents and win with 38 percent of the vote. Of the $4 million Clawson reported in receipts through June 4, about $3.65 million came from the candidate, Federal Election Commission reports show.
Clawson regularly referred to himself as a political “outsider” who would push in Congress for a so-called penny plan that would cut federal spending by one percent each year. His Twitter handle is @ClawsonOutsider.
Clawson played basketball at Purdue University and was chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Hayes Lemmerz International Inc., which makes steel and aluminum wheels for cars and trucks.
Once Clawson is sworn in, the House will have 234 Republicans and 199 Democrats, with two vacancies in strongly Democratic districts. Democrats need a net gain of 17 seats for a majority.