Published: Feb 05, 2014 4:46 PM EST
Updated: Feb 05, 2014 6:03 PM EST

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Republican state Senator Lizbeth Beancquisto appeared on "Daybreak with Drew Steele on Fox News 92.5" Wednesday morning. She said many Southwest Floridians talked to her about running for Congress, going back to last November.

That was when former Congressman Trey Radel acknowledged that he faced a charge for cocaine possession, and he pleaded guilty to the charge. Radel resigned from Congress about 10 days ago. 

"That very night, back in November, I started hearing from people, talking to people at the store, on the playground, hearing from my daughter's teacher at her school in Lee County. People were saying, you should consider running for the seat," said Benacquisto. She announced for the seat on Monday. 

She touts her conservative credentials in a race that pits her against former state lawmaker Paige Kreegel, and former business executive Curt Clawson, among others.

"I am 100 percent committed to this and I am very passionate," said Benacquisto. "There is no greater need than to get this country back on track, and to end this federal government over-reach," she said. "I don't want Pres. Obama dictating the educational curriculum for my daughter in her school in southwest Florida. We need to have Florida standards. We need to get the federal government out of the lives of Southwest Floridians."  

Curt Clawson said he would like Benacquisto and others to pledge to turn down money from special interest groups. Clawson is taking that pledge, and said he does not want anyone to 'own' him, if he is elected to Congress.

It's not known whether Benacquisto might do that, but she did say in her interview that she battled special interests in Tallahassee to get things done.   She took on a powerful interest group, the insurance lobby, to pass a bill that gives cancer patients more options on the treatments that are covered by insurance.  

"We had to extend the session two times, but I would not give up, I would not give in. We got the bill passed and it is helping cancer patients in this state," said Benacquisto.

The special primary for District 19, which covers coastal Collier and Lee counties, is April 22.