Political newcomer Curt Clawson will use Super Bowl ad to launch run for Trey Radel’s seat

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After disgraced U.S. Rep. Trey Radel quit Congress this week, the race for his successor is now wide open, even before Gov. Rick Scott announces a special election.   

Former GOP Rep. Connie Mack says he is out. Past Radel opponent Chauncey Goss and State Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto are on the fence, for now, though Benacquisto ran political ads that some say hints at more than just re-election.

Political newcomer Curt Clawson has announced he will enter the race for Florida’s 19th Congressional District, and he is doing it in a big way — with ads during Sunday’s Super Bowl halftime show.

“It’s kind of a unique ad,” the Republican candidate tells WFTX/Fox 4 News in Fort Myers. “I think it will draw some smiles, which we hope it does.”

Clawson is a retired CEO of Hayes Lemmerz International, an automotive-wheel manufacturer with $2 billion in annual sales. He also served as Chief Operating Officer of American National Can.

So far, Clawson wrote several checks to run ads during both Sunday’s pre-game show and the “most coveted slot on TV,” the Super Bowl Halftime Show. He believes a Super Bowl ad will be the most effective way to get the word out about his campaign.

“We need to stand up to President Obama,” he says. “We need to stand up to special interests. We need to stand up to lobbyists.”

Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott, who earlier took himself out of the running, sees the shortened timetable of a special election as an obstacle for newcomers like Clawson.

“Short of a massive media blitz,” Lee tells Fox 4 reporter Warren Wright, “I don’t know how anyone can come out with any type of name ID to speak of.”

Clawson responds by saying he will not only feature ads on local and cable stations in the district during the Super Bowl, but they will continue for two weeks after the game, something that could cost the candidate hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“I don’t think it’s a half-court shot,” says the former captain of the Perdue University basketball team. “This is more like a three-point shot to win.”

“And I’m pretty good at making three-pointers.”

Clawson is also inviting the public to a free Super Sunday event, which features his old Purdue basketball coach, the legendary Gene Keady. The party starts 5 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 2 at Doc’s Beach House, 27908 Hickory Blvd. in Bonita Springs.

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 HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, 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 phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.