Potential candidates for District 19 seat

Posted at 6:30 PM, May 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-20 18:30:18-04

Congressman Curt Clawson made a surprise announcement late Thursday that he will give up his District 19 seat at the end of the year, saying that he wants to spend more time with his father after losing his mother last year.

Since Clawson won the seat in a special election only a couple of years ago, many assumed he would run again for another term. But the news that he won't be representing Southwest Florida in D.C. after his term is up has given other political hopefuls a lot to think about.

"I am considering it," said Byron Donalds of Naples, who ran for the seat several years ago. "It's a huge decision for my wife, for myself and for our family."

Donalds is currently a candidate for the Florida State House, but Clawson's announcement that he won't be seeking a second term has Donalds considering his priorities - both personal and political.

"We have a major issue with federal overreach that can no longer be tolerated," Donalds said. 

Soon after Clawson's announcement, Sanibel City Council member Chauncey Goss released a statement that he intends to run for the seat:

"Southwest Florida deserves dynamic leadership and honest representation that is willing to fight the status quo," his statement read in part.

Others thinking about jumping into the race include State Senator Lizbeth Benaquisto and Dr. Paige Kreegel, who both ran against Clawson two years ago in the special election.

State representative Matt Caldwell said that he is also giving it some thought, wants to see what Benaquisto will do before deciding.

"You've got to evaluate, one, if you think you can serve effectively in the job, and two, do you have a passion to do it if you were to get there," Caldwell said.

Former state representative Tom Grady of Naples said he is also considering a run to succeed Clawson, and should decide within a few days.

Fox 4 reached out to former Congressman Connie Mack to gauge his interest, but did not hear back.