U.S. Rep. Trey Radel is facing growing pressure to resign as the state Republican Party and local Republican officials in his congressional district issued statements Monday night calling on Radel to step down over his conviction last week for cocaine possession.
Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry said in a statement that Radel should leave the seat for his own good and the good of his constituents.
“The people of Florida’s 19th Congressional District need a congressman who is 100 percent focused on the needs of Southwest Florida,” Curry said. “Therefore, Congressman Radel should step down and focus his attention on rehabilitation and his family.”
Earlier Monday, the chairmen of the Collier County Republicans and the Lee County Republican Executive Committee emphasized the decision on whether Radel should finish his after being arrested during a drug sting was Radel’s alone.
But the joint statement by Mike Lyster and Terry Lee made clear the local GOP organizations would not back the freshman congressman if he tries to remain in the seat through another election cycle.
“[T]hese actions have violated the trust of those whom he was elected to represent and fall short of the standards for an elected official; especially a member of the United States Congress,” the statement said, according to the Naples Daily News.
“His actions clearly disqualify the pursuit of another term and if he should run for re-election, he would not enjoy our support.”
“While the decision to complete the current term is his alone to make, we strongly encourage him to reflect on his ability to remain effective and that a return to Congress may serve only as an impediment to his recovery,” the statement said.
“We feel it is in the best interests of all involved that he resign immediately. We hope that he can focus solely on his rehabilitation and allow the citizens to begin their own healing process.”
Not all Republicans thought he should go.
According to the Daily News, state Rep. Tom Grady, R-Naples, noted that Radel’s 19th Congressional District constituents would lack a representative if Radel resigned, and cited the trouble and expense of organizing a special election to take his place.
“I wonder if they considered a resignation would leave us without representation,” Grady told the Daily News.
“He blew it. He absolutely blew it,” Grady said. “But a resignation? I’m not sure that would be best for Collier.”
Radel has been in a drug-treatment facility in Naples since being sentenced to one year probation and fined $250 after pleading guilty Wednesday. He was arrested police sting Oct. 29.
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