Registered Republicans in much of Lee and Collier counties have a decision ahead.
Early voting for the special primary for the congressional seat vacated by former House Rep Trey Radel opens Saturday with election day less than one week away.
Republicans residing in Congressional District 19, which encompasses much of Lee County and parts of Collier, have their choice among four candidates. State Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto; businessman and former basketball star Curt Clawson; aviation, space and defense industry expert Michael Dreikorn and former state representative and physician Paige Kreegel will face off in a closed primary to conclude on election day, April 22.
As we stated earlier, it's a solid slate in terms of experience and expertise - despite, perhaps, the muck splashed hither and yon by some in negative campaign ads that likely caused a voter retch or two.
Still, if you're a Republican, it's a key primary.
The primary victor will advance to the June 24 general election to face April Freeman, a Democrat, and Ray Netherwood, Libertarian Party of Florida candidate as well as Timothy Rossano, a write-in candidate.
Given the county's voter geographic and historical pattern, this primary also means the victor has a good chance of running as the incumbent later this year.
There are simply too many urgent issues at the federal level - the sure-to-come back problem of escalating flood insurance premiums, water quality discharge woes and on-going health care reform as the Affordable Care Act makes its way into implementation - to let this one-race primary and special election just slide by the wayside.
District 19, includes the communities of Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Pine Island, Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel, Captiva, Bonita Springs, parts of North Fort Myers and Lehigh Acres, Estero, Boca Grande, Naples and Marco Island.
Early voting for the primary will be April 12-19 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in 11 locations in Lee and Collier counties.
Here in Lee, the locations are:
- Cape Coral Public Library, 921 Sw 39th Ter., Cape Coral
- Cape Coral-Elections Office, 1031 Se 9th Pl., #3, Cape Coral
- Terry Park, 3406 Palm Beach Blvd., Fort Myers
- Lee County Elections Center, 13180 S. Cleveland Ave., Fort Myers
- Rutenberg Parks & Rec Facility, 6490 South Pointe Blvd., Fort Myers
- East County Regional Library, 881 Gunnery Rd., Lehigh Acres
- Bonita Springs-Elections Office, 25987 S. Tamiami Trl., #105, Bonita Springs
Early voting, then, for the special election - which, of course will be open to all registered voters - will run from June 14-21.