Trey Radel, the Republican Congressman charged with possessing cocaine last November, and sentenced to a year's probation, announced Monday he will resign. The 37-year-old Florida Congressman had taken a leave of absence to attend rehab after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of possessing cocaine back on November 20, whereby he was fined $250 and ordered to undergo a substance abuse treatment. But he had stated that he would return to Congress after the Winter recess this January. However, his chief of staff, Dave Natonski, has now confirmed he will instead be resigning.
When he was first arrested, Radel had resisted calls from Florida Governor Rick Scott and other Republicans to step down. But despite personally apologizing to colleagues, it seems Radel has now decided the best way to move forward is an entirely new direction. So who will fill his role? Potential candidates include Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto and Chauncey Goss, as Politico reports:
The race for Radel’s seat had begun even before he decided to resign. Republican Paige Kreegel, a former state representative, has already launched a campaign for the 19th district. Kreegel, who finished third to Radel in a 2012 primary, has drawn the support of a super PAC, which has raised $1 million with the intention of helping him win the seat.
Lizbeth Benacquisto, a Republican leader in the Florida Senate in Tallahassee, is widely expected to run for the seat. Former Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.), who held the seat before Radel, has also mulled a run. In a statement, Mack said Radel made the right decision, and noted that it’s now time for the district to elect a new congressman. He then mentioned his economic plan.
Back in November, Radel claimed that his cocaine use is partly attributable to the "disease of alcoholism" with which he struggles, and admitted he needed to get help for the sake of his family.
However, as Bustle pointed at the time, at least Radel hasn't been hypocritical in the face of drug policy. As well as cosponsoring legislation to end mandatory minimum sentencing for drug offenders, he has opposed drug seizures and the war on drugs in general.
Meanwhile, Rob Ford, the Toronto Mayor who was caught on tape admitting to smoking crack cocaine back in October may have managed to hold on to his job — but he certainly hasn't managed to hold on to his reputation. Of course, he's not American...