In it, but not of it. TPM DC
Clawson's campaign trail experience has been somewhat chaotic. The primary hasn't been peaceful with one de facto nominee coasting to the nomination. Instead, Clawson has had to fight tooth and nail with the other primary challengers, most notably Florida Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto (R), who's been mentioned as a rising star in GOP circles.
Perhaps the most bizarre and heated moment in the primary came when Clawson appeared at a press conference called by the three other Republican opponents in the primary regarding questions about Clawson's ties to a convicted sex offender. Clawson actually managed to get the mic and address the criticism at the press conference.
Clawson won the backing of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and most recently outgoing Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) while Benacquisto, notably, was endorsed by Sarah Palin. Benacquisto saw that as such a big opening for her that she seems to have shirked some of her legislative duties to campaign with the former Alaska governor and tea party favorite. Benacquisto mysteriously seemed to have voted on a bill after she left the chamber to campaign with Palin.
Clawson, a former captain for Purdue University's basketball team, challenged President Barack Obama in a shootout in a campaign ad.
Clawson, an ex-automotive executive and millionaire (whose campaign logo touts his time as captain of the Purdue basketball team) also injected $2.65 million into his campaign for the seat so far. That spending ignited a firestorm of money by outside groups that backed the other candidates. The pro-Benacquisto Liberty and Leadership Fund spent $677,000 on the majority leader and the Values Are Vital super PAC spent $1.3 million on former state Rep. Paige Kreegel, according to National Journal.
But recent polls have shown Clawson in a strong position to win the nomination and possibly Radel's seat if the district stays red (the district has flipped control in the past few elections. Before Radel, Rep. Ted Deutch (D) represented the 19th Congressional District). Clawson, unlike some of his competitors in the primary, has not held elected office before and throughout the race also stressed his status as an "outsider," which played prominently in his Super Bowl campaign ad. Clawson also challenged President Barack Obama to a basketball shootout in the ad.
Arguably the most memorable Clawson ad of the race came two weeks ago when the businessman's campaign aired a television ad called "Quiet." The 30-second ad was just a shot of a beach with the sun while text asked for a "few moments of peace … before the negative ads start again."
(Photo credits: Clawson for Congress)