- Associated Press - Monday, February 3, 2014

MIAMI (AP) - The field of Republicans looking to replace a disgraced Florida congressman is growing.

State Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto and former state Rep. Paige Kreegel formally declared their candidacies Monday for the seat vacated by U.S. Rep. Trey Radel.

Former Purdue University basketball star Curt Clawson is also running.

Radel resigned from Congress last week, two months after he pleaded guilty to cocaine-possession charges. The freshman Republican faced a House ethics investigation, a growing group of primary challengers and the steady drumbeat of a Republican establishment calling for him to step down.

Florida’s 19th Congressional District is solidly Republican, offering Democrats little chance of a pick-up opportunity. All three candidates in the Gulf Coast district support repealing President Barack Obama’s health care law.

The primary election is April 22.

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