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Radel Returns to Congress Amid a Flurry of Unanswered Questions

Radel, center, leaves court last month after pleading guilty to cocaine possession. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Radel, center, leaves court last month after pleading guilty to cocaine possession. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A somber Rep. Trey Radel refused to say whether he would run for re-election Tuesday night, as he returned to the Capitol to vote for the first time since he took a leave absence following an Oct. 29 drug arrest for possession of cocaine.

“I cannot express how sorry I am,” the Florida Republican said at the start of a four-minute pen-and-pad news conference in his Longworth Building office. “I ask for your forgiveness. I’ve let down our entire country. I have let down my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. And I’ve let down my family.”

Radel said he had a support system in place, in Washington and at home in Florida, that would carry him through his addiction issues. Radel didn’t specify what addiction issues — drugs, alcohol or both — he was referring to, nor would he specifically mention what that support system entailed. But he said he would be involved in at least one anonymous, 12-step program.

Another lingering question that Radel refused to answer was whether he planned to run for re-election.

“Re-election is the absolute last thing on my mind. The most important thing, right now, is my health, my family, and getting back to finding solutions and getting something done for our …” he said, as reporters spoke over him so that his last words became inaudible.

On Tuesday, another Florida Republican officially announced she would challenge the freshman Republican in a primary.

Radel said he was hoping to deal with the issues that face our country. “And in doing so, I will do it one day at a time,” he said.

Radel noted that the word “honorable” is often placed before the U.S. House of Representatives. “And I will work hard, to every single day, to restore that honor, rebuilding trust, and making amends with our country, our constituents, my colleagues, my wife, and my 2-year-old,” he said.

He did not note the House Ethics investigation he still has to face, nor a number of other questions and issues that he has yet to address.

First on the list, it appears, is meeting with Speaker John A. Boehner. Radel noted that he had not met with the Ohio Republican since his leave of absence, but he said he has a meeting scheduled with the speaker this week.

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