01/07/2014 08:31 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Trey Radel, Cocaine Congressman, Gets Republican Primary Challenge From Paige Kreegel


WASHINGTON -- Former Florida state lawmaker Paige Kreegel on Tuesday said he will run in this year's Republican primary against Rep. Trey Radel (R-Fla.), who was busted last fall for cocaine possession.

The announcement came on Radel's first day back on Capitol Hill after a leave of absence he spent at a drug rehabilitation facility. In a statement announcing his candidacy, Kreegel, a Punta Gorda doctor, took a shot at Radel's October arrest.

“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. “Southwest Florida should expect a Congressman who can lead, a Congressman without distractions, a Congressman they can trust.”

Shortly after Radel pleaded guilty to cocaine possession in November, the Values are Vital PAC was created to raise funds for a potential Republican challenger in the 2014 primary. The political action committee raised more than $1 million in December.

Though the group has not yet thrown its support behind a specific candidate, Values are Vital chairman Anthony Farhat made a contribution to Kreegel in the 2012 primary, which Radel won. Farhat told the Tampa Bay Times last Thursday that he believed Radel "created his own demise."

“I’m not trying to scare or intimidate anybody. I’m just trying to do what I can as a business owner in this district," Farhat said. "I’m trying to say, 'Hey, I don’t want to see our district continue to make mistakes.'"



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