Sarah Palin endorses Lizbeth Benacquisto for CD 19

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A top name in conservative politics is endorsing Lizbeth Benacquisto in the race for Florida’s 19th Congressional District.

Former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin announced Wednesday she is supporting the Florida Senate Majority Leader to succeed disgraced U.S. Rep. Trey Radel. Radel resigned in January over an arrest for cocaine possession in Washington D.C.

“Lizbeth Benacquisto is a proven conservative with an unwavering commitment to the principles of our Founders and to the sanctity of life,” Palin said in a post on Benacquisto’s Facebook page. “In the Florida State Senate she has a record that demonstrates a willingness to take on special interests and rein in the scope of government. A fierce advocate for her constituents, Lizbeth has introduced and pushed through legislation to protect our senior citizens.”

Benacquisto is locked in a heated battle for the strongly Republican district with former automobile-wheel manufacturer CEO Curt Clawson and former State Rep. Paige Kreegel.

The special GOP primary is set for April 22 GOP. The general election is June 24.

Palin also railed against some of the advertising tactics used in the CD 19 race, many of them questioning Benacquisto’s conservative credentials.

“I admire and respect the good folks supporting other candidates in this race, but we’ll have to disagree on this one,” Palin said. “Lizbeth is running against a wealthy self-funded candidate with lots of splashy campaign ads claiming to be a conservative. Since when do conservatives stand for crony capitalism and government bailouts?” 

“Look beyond the fancy anonymous campaign ads,” she adds. “Look at a candidate’s record, not just their rhetoric. Lizbeth is a genuine conservative with a track record to prove it.”

Palin, a prominent supporter of women running for elected office, served as a news commentator and governor of Alaska before her selection as a running mate for U.S. Sen. John McCain in the 2008 presidential election.

Later, she turned the failed bid for vice president to a series of high-profile media appearances, pundit jobs, speaking engagements and political endorsements.

Palin’s political committee SarahPAC collected more than $1 million through the end of 2013, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, netting more than $5 million in 2012. The money supported dozens of high profile Tea Party-leaning candidates such as Sens. Ted Cruz and Jeff Flake.

As a celebrity/political figure, Palin’s strength is that she can reliably energize her followers and drive voter turnout for candidates and issues she supports, such as abortion and gun rights. 

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.