The chair of the Republican Party of Florida Monday night urged Rep.Trey Radel to resign in the wake of his guilty plea last week on cocaine possession charges.
"The people of Florida's 19th Congressional District need a Congressman who is 100 percent focused on the needs of Southwest Florida," party chair Lenny Curry said in a statement. "Therefore, Congressman Radel should step down and focus his attention on rehabilitation and his family."
Curry's call was echoed by Florida's Lee and Collier county Republican executive committees.
The county Republican leaders said that Radel's arrest and guilty plea "have violated the trust of those whom he was elected to represent and fall short of the standards for an elected official; especially a member of the United States congress."
"His actions clearly disqualify the pursuit of another term and if he should run for re-election, he would not enjoy our support," the county Republican leaders said in their statements. "We feel it is in the best interests of all involved that he resign immediately."
Radel, a 37-year-old freshman, is on a leave from the House of Representatives as he undergoes in-patient rehabilitation following his Oct. 29 arrest for purchasing 3.5 grams of cocaine. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor cocaine possession.
He could not be reached for comment Monday night. But a spokesman, Dave Natonski, told the Naples Daily News in a statement: "Congressman Radel's top priority right now is to complete his rehabilitation and return to work as soon as possible."
Radel has missed several votes since taking his leave. In his absence, Radel's congressional office staff and House members from neighboring Florida districts are pitching in to provide constituent services.