(CNN) - Businessman Curt Clawson won Tuesday's Republican primary in southwest Florida for the seat formerly held by Rep. Trey Radel, who left office over a cocaine scandal.
Radel pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drug charge following his arrest for cocaine possession and stepped down in January.
Clawson faced three candidates in the primary, which attracted national attention, major endorsements from such political heavyweights as Sarah Palin and Rand Paul, and big bucks from outside groups.
State Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto, businessman Michael Dreikorn and former state representative Paige Kreegel rounded out the field.
The district, which runs along Florida's Gulf of Mexico coast from Fort Myers to Naples, is heavily Republican. Radel won 62% of the vote in his 2012 election victory, and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney carried the district by 22-percentage points over President Barack Obama.
With 97% of precincts reporting in the district's two counties Tuesday night, Clawson led with 36%. He is considered the overwhelming favorite in the June 24 special election.
He will face Democrat April Freeman, a former Republican.
The winner will serve out the remainder of Radel's term, which runs through the end of the year.