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Republican businessman wins Florida race to replace cocaine congressman

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(CNN) - Republican businessman Curt Clawson will win Tuesday's special general election in Florida to replace embattled former Rep. Trey Radel.

CNN projects Clawson will defeat Democrat April Freeman and two other candidates in the race for the state's 19th Congressional District.

Radel, a Republican who was arrested last year for cocaine possession, resigned from Congress in January, triggering contests to fill the U.S. House seat in southwest Florida.

Clawson was favored to win Tuesday in the heavily Republican district, which runs along Florida's Gulf of Mexico coast from Cape Coral and Fort Myers south to Naples and Marco Island.

He faced Freeman - who ran as a Democrat but was formerly an independent and before that a Republican - and Libertarian Ray Netherwood, as well as write-in candidate Timothy John Rossano.

Clawson will serve out the remainder of Radel's term, which runs through the end of the year. There will be an August primary ahead of November's general election.

Radel won 62% of the vote in his 2012 election victory, and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney carried the district by 22-percentage points over President Barack Obama.

Radel plead guilty to drug possession charges in November after he was caught buying cocaine from an undercover federal agent in Washington. In January he wrote a letter of resignation to House Speaker John Boehner.

He spent nearly a month in a substance abuse program in Florida, and has maintained that his bigger struggle was with alcohol abuse, not drugs.

 

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