Republican favored to replace Florida's cocaine-snorting congressman Trey Radel
Rep. Trey Radel (R-FL) [Facebook]

TAMPA Fla. (Reuters) - Voters in southwest Florida on Tuesday were expected to pick another Republican to replace U.S. Representative Trey Radel, who resigned in January after pleading guilty to possessing cocaine.

Retired businessman Curt Clawson is the favorite to win a special election in Florida's 19th Congressional District, a traditionally Republican stronghold. He faces Democrat April Freeman and Libertarian Ray Netherwood in the contest.

Clawson, a former chief executive officer of a wheel manufacturing company and basketball star at Purdue University, tapped his personal wealth in a heated Republican primary battle.

A political newcomer, he branded himself a Washington outsider - a message that resonated with Tea Party supporters and helped him secure the party's nomination in April.

The winner of Tuesday's election will fill the remainder of Radel's term and must seek re-election in November.

(Reporting by Letitia Stein; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Doina Chiacu)