Published: Jan 31, 2014 3:26 PM EST
Updated: Jan 31, 2014 6:02 PM EST

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- WINK News has confirmed that state senator Lizbeth Benacquisto travelled to Washington DC on Wednesday and Thursday of this week.  Her campaign for state senate says she met with conservative and Republican party activists.

The campaign says the meetings were part of her process, in deciding whether to run for the congressional seat, vacated by Trey Radel. He resigned, two months after pleading guilty to cocaine possession.

A professor in American politics at Edison State College is not surprised.

"She has a lot of the things that the Republicans want to re-brand their party. She is young, female, and serves a pretty diverse population as a state senator.  That's the kind of person they want to broaden the party appeal, broaden the base," says Prof. Laura Weir. "She has a reputation as a hard worker, and has legislative experience.  Plus she rose to be Senate Majority Leader in Florida in less than 4 years."

Benacquisto is running TV spots, citing her values and accomplishments. But a political action committee, Values are Vital, is running spots criticizing the senator. Those spots are running in Southwest Florida, despite threats from the state Republican Party to sue.