Florida Republican Rep. Curt Clawson announced Thursday he will not seek re-election, saying he wanted be closer to his ailing father.
“With the passing of my mom, it’s a good time to show support for my dad and be close to (him),” Clawson told The News-Press of Fort Myers .
Clawson, 56, a former CEO of automotive wheel maker Hayes Lemmerz International, first won his 19th District seat in a special election in 2014 after former Rep. Trey Radel resigned in the midst of a cocaine scandal.
He ran a self-funded campaign that year as an outsider and was backed by Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, among others. He was one of 10 House Republicans who voted against Rep. Paul D. Ryan when he was elected Speaker last year .
The 19th District encompasses most of Lee County and includes Fort Myers and adjacent Cape Coral. The reliably Republican district is considered a haven for retirees.
Florida GOP Rep. Dennis A. Ross told the newspaper he was “shocked and disappointed” at the news, but that he understood the decision.
“I lost my mom 10 years ago. I lost my dad while I was up here, and those things you can never have back,” he said. “If you live with the regret of not being where you know you need to be, that’s a terrible regret you’ll never get over.”
Potential replacements for Clawson include consultant Chauncey Goss who told Politico he was running and former state Rep. Paige Kreegel said he would consider it.