The Washington Post

Embattled Rep. Trey Radel (R-Fla.) gets first primary challenger

Embattled Rep. Trey Radel (R-Fla.) has drawn his first primary challenger: former state representative Paige Kreegel, who lost to Radel in the 2012 election.

"From ObamaCare to Washington’s out-of-control spending to the breaches of national security, the issues facing our country are serious matters that deserves serious, sober representation,” Kreegel said in a statement from his campaign, according to the Tampa Bay Times. "Southwest Florida should expect a Congressman who can lead, a Congressman without distractions, a Congressman they can trust."

Kreegel finished third in the 2012 GOP primary. A super PAC funded by his allies has already raised more than a $1 million.

Radel is returning to Congress this week after undergoing rehabilitation for substance abuse. He was arrested for cocaine possession last year and later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge.

Despite calls from Republican leaders in Florida to step aside, Radel has shown no signs he plans to exit. He said last week that he looks forward to returning to work as a congressman.

The GOP field against Radel -- who won the nomination in a packed field with just 30 percent of the vote last cycle -- may grow crowded. Other names being mentioned include state Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto -- who is notably airing ads despite running unopposed for her seat, a sign she could be gearing up for a run -- as well as former congressman Connie Mack and Chauncey Goss, the GOP runner-up in 2012.

4:16 p.m.: This post has been updated with the correct spelling of Kreegel's last name. 

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.

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