Rep. Francis Rooney (R) has told Fox News that he would be stepping down from his seat and run for re-election in 2020.
“I’ve done what I came to do,” Rooney told Fox News. He said he ran for Congress to “get the money for the Everglades projects that had been languishing for many years, and to try to get this offshore drilling ban passed to protect Florida.”
For months these political figures throughout southwest Florida and a couple close to Rooney’s legislative office have said that it would probably be Rooney’s last term, but did not go as far as to speculate when the announcement would take place.
Two sources told The Floridian back in February that Rooney was not happy with the day-to-day grind of Congress, and that he was “bored” with the process.
So who will replace him?
The Floridian spoke to two potential candidates, two friends who share the same political consultant, state Reps. Byron Donalds and Bob Rommell. Both men, who as early as 2017, said that they are open to a run for Rooney’s seat, not if, but when he announces an early retirement.
Over the weekend, Donalds told The Floridian that he would be discussing the run with his team in the following days.
Even Donalds and Rommell heard the rumors that Rooney was ready to hang it up in the House of Representatives.
Another potential candidate is term-limited Sen. Lizbeth Benequisto.
Benequisto ran for this seat several election cycles back but lost to businessman Curt Clawson in the Republican special election primary race. Clawson went on to win the congressional seat but resigned a short while later over personal family reasons.
But like Benequisto, who has name recognition in the district, so does Byron Donalds, who also ran for congress in this very same district.
Donalds ran and lost against former Congressman Trey Radel, who was then replaced by Clawson in a special congressional election.
Another individual to consider is Fox News Anchor Sean Hannity. Hannity told The Floridian that because he spends so much time in Florida and owns property here, he would definitely run for the Rooney’s seat when the time was right.
It’s probably safe to exclude Hannity for this election cycle, considering that he will be neck-deep in trying to get President Trump elected and because he recently resigned with the media network.
The winner of the Conservative Republican-leaning seat will be decided in the GOP primary.