SOUTHWEST FLORIDA - The ballot is set. WINK News now knows who you will be voting for to replace former Congressman Trey Radel. Seven candidates are now officially in the race and a Special Primary in April is getting closer by the day. But, a process that would normally take a year is being squeezed into a few months and that brings its own set of obstacles.
Four Republicans: State Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto, former State Representative Paige Kreegel, local businessman Curt Clawson and Michael Dreikorn will go head-to-head in the April 22nd Primary.
The winner faces Democrat April Freeman, Libertarian Ray Netherwood and write-in candidate Timothy Rossano in a June 24th General Election.
"The real battle is going to be between April and June," Political Scientist Dr. Laura Weir said.
This time around, Weir anticipates that voters will focus heavily on ethics while candidates will have to focus on getting their messages out fast. "We will hear a lot of air time being taken up," Weir said. "We will see a lot of ads on the net we will see an awful lot of activity in our mailbox at our doors."
Whoever wins won't have time to get comfortable with two months until the August Primary. Even Dr. Weir admits that while the winner probably won't be able to accomplish much for Southwest Florida, they likely will remain in that seat. "The person who actually gains the seat will not have very much of a chance to build any kind of opposition before the regular election," Weir said.
The deadline to register for the April 22nd primary is March 24. Remember, it is closed so only Republicans can vote. You can expect a notice in the mail in the next couple weeks-- explaining the process. Because of the time crunch, your normal voting location may be changed.