Curt Clawson supporters dominate Tea Party Express rally in Estero

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In the last days before Tuesday’s special GOP primary for Florida’s 19th Congressional District, nearly 500 people gathered in Estero on Saturday to rally for the Tea Party Express.

However, Ryan Mills of saw the event behind Estero Community Park’s rec center be more like a campaign stop for congressional hopeful Curt Clawson, endorsed by the Tea Party Express in the CD 19 race.

All four Republican candidates were invited — Clawson, Florida Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto, former State Rep. Paige Kreegel and aviation authority Michael Dreikorn.

By noontime, only Clawson showed up. In his speech, he touched upon many of the Tea party talking points, calling to cancel Obamacare, reject Common Core and pushing a pro-life agenda.

“This tour and this rally is to give a platform to all the candidates to make their argument why they’re the best conservative, and why they should be elected,” Tea Party Express Executive Director Taylor Budowich told NapelsNews.

Dominated by Clawson supporters, the event also included speeches by former U.S. Rep. Connie Mack and local Tea Party favorite Byron Donalds. Mack talked about his proposed “Penny Plan” for federal fiscal responsibility.

The Tea Party Express, a national organization based in Sacramento, Calif., used Fort Myers as the start of “Fighting for Liberty,” a 14-day, 14-stop bus tour.

The tour will stay in the area through Election Day, ending up on May 1 in Minneapolis, Minn.

“This is our first stop,” said Budowich. “This is our launching point.”


Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.