Last November, Radel pleaded guilty to misdemeanor cocaine possession. He had been charged with buying $260 worth of the drug from an undercover Drug Enforcement Administration agent.
The freshman congressman was sentenced to one year of supervised probation and fined $250. Radel also agreed to enter a rehab program. He apologized to his family and constituents, and took a leave of absence from Congress. Radel returned to work earlier this month.
As NBC News notes, “Radel’s political fortunes … suffered as a result of the arrest. The Republican Party of Florida had called for the congressman to step down shortly after his arrest, and Radel had drawn a primary challenger in his bid for re-election to his Republican-leaning seat in the House.”
Florida’s 19th District, which Radel has served, is considered a “safe Republican seat,” as the National Journal says. It adds that even before Radel’s decision to step aside, jockeying had begun within the GOP among potential successors:
“Allies of two potential successors” have been “sniping over the airwaves and in the press. And that’s even before former Republican Rep. Connie Mack, who could try a comeback, has made his intentions known.”