According to Congressman Francis Rooney’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Tami Holliday, Rooney will not be seeking a third term in the U. S. House of Representatives for Florida’s District 19.
In a recent interview, Rooney said that he’s “done what I came to do,” referring to his efforts in getting money for the Everglades Restoration projects and also to ban offshore drilling along the Florida coast.
In May 2019, Rooney requested an additional $200 million funding for Everglades Restoration. In total, nearly $1.1 billion has been appropriated for Herbert Hoover Dike repairs and CERP projects for FY 2018 and FY 2019.
Rooney is also a member of the House Environment Subcommittee. According to Rooney, “Southwest Florida has a tourism driven economy that depends on clean water and a healthy environment,” and he would use his post to continue efforts to reduce the threat of harmful algae blooms (HABs).
Rooney led the Florida Delegation in opposing offshore drilling in Florida saying, “Our beaches drive Florida’s more than $100 billion in tourism revenue. Coastal communities and businesses — charter boat captains, hotels, restaurants, recreational outlets, tourist services of all types — all depend on a healthy and pristine marine environment.”
District 19 includes Lee and Collier Counties including the greater Naples, Marco Island and Fort Myers areas. Rooney’s decision not to run has would-be candidates pondering their positions and financial viabilities.
Way back in 2014, a vacancy was created by then-U.S. Representative Trey Radel following a Washington D.C. drug bust. There was a special election and Curt Clawson, a self-funded candidate, won that race and held onto that seat until his announcement not to run again. This made way for Francis Rooney, a self-funded candidate, to win that seat.
Confirmed Their Intent: State Rep. Dane Eagle, a Cape Coral Republican and state House Majority Leader, is saying that “at this time, my wife and I are carefully considering this opportunity.” Dr. William Figlesthaler, a Naples urologist, already opened an account with the Federal Elections Commission. Dan Severson, retired and former Minnesota House Minority Whip, has confirmed his intent and Randy Henderson, Mayor of Fort Myers, just announced.
On the Fence: State Rep. Bob Rommel, a Naples Republican, said “My family and I are discussing options. State Rep. Byron Donalds, a Naples Republican who ran for District 19 in 2012, said he’s also exploring options. Chauncey Goss of Sanibel ran for this seat before and as a DeSantis appointee to the South Florida Water Management District, is not making any sudden decision just yet. State Rep. Spencer Roach, a North Fort Myers Republican, said he’s paying close attention to how the field forms before making any decision.
Other names being discussed by political observers are former State Rep. Gary Aubuchon, State Representative Heather Fitzenhagen, former Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott, and radio host Drew Steele.
Not Interested: Former State Rep. Matt Caldwell, who was the 2018 Republican nominee for Agriculture Commissioner, State Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, State Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto, and Lee County Commissioners Cecil Pendergrass and Brian Hamman.
Democrats Cindy Banyai had already filed to run against Rooney. David Holden said he is officially filing to once again run for the District 19th seat.
Rooney’s Environmental Scorecard for the Everglades:
- $82 million for Herbert Hoover Dike rehabilitation projects.
- $76.5 million for Everglades Restoration via energy and water appropriations.
- $8 million for Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) and $46 million for non-CERP Everglades projects via Interior appropriations.
- $10 million for planning and interagency coordination in support of Everglades restoration.
- $153 million for ecosystem programs under the U.S. Geological Survey, including those in the Everglades.