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Republican wins Florida special congressional election

By Letitia Stein

TAMPA Fla. (Reuters) - Voters in southwest Florida on Tuesday elected another Republican to replace U.S. Representative Trey Radel, who resigned in January after pleading guilty to possessing cocaine.

Retired businessman Curt Clawson won almost 67 percent of the vote in a special election in Florida's 19th Congressional District, according to the state's Division of Elections.

In the traditionally Republican stronghold Democrat April Freeman finished second with 29 percent and Libertarian Ray Netherwood was a distant third.

Clawson, a former chief executive officer of a wheel manufacturing company and basketball star at Purdue University, tapped his personal wealth in a heated Republican primary battle.

A political newcomer, he branded himself a Washington outsider - a message that resonated with Tea Party supporters and helped him secure the party's nomination in April.

Clawson will fill the remainder of Radel's term and must seek re-election in November.

(Reporting by Letitia Stein; Editing by Colleen Jenkins, Doina Chiacu and Lisa Shumaker)

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