Who will replace Congressman Rooney? Question remains

With Congressman Francis Rooney’s announcement he will not seek a third term in office in 2020, who will replace him? We spoke to Rooney directly for his response to the recent decision. And we look at reactions from other officials and local political experts to the decision and future of Rooney’s seat.

Congressman Rooney said he believes his work as a congressman representing Florida has been completed Monday.

“Well, I started to think about that after we got the offshore drilling ban passed a few months ago,” Rooney told WINK News on the phone.

And Rooney said he ran for office to accomplish the offshore drilling ban and to get more money for the Everglades, saying the state has received $1.5 billion for the Everglades since he took office. So he feels with his goals achieved in those area, he is able to step away from his seat.

We looked at how other state and U.S. leaders are reacting to his decision. U.S. Sen. Rick Scott his reaction to Rooney’s announcement this weekend on social media. “I know he will continue to serve our region until the end of his term,” Scott tweeted.

Rep. Rooney’s time in Congress, representing Florida’s 19th Congressional District, is coming to an end. Mixed reactions were given on the WINK News Facebook post to this news when we first reported the story on Saturday.

And Rooney’s decision comes only days after he said he was not yet certain about impeachment of President Donald Trump. CNN reported, “He had not yet come to a conclusion on whether the President committed a crime that compels his removal from office, a striking view among House Republicans defensive of Trump.”

“I’m just not hardwired to make a decision without all the facts,” Rooney told WINK News. “I’ve been a business person all my life. I’m used to looking at all the facts and deciding the best course of action to take.”

Rooney said U.S. leaders continue to hear testimony, and he said he has not heard anything definitive about the president for him to have an opinion for or against impeachment.

“I want hear all the facts,” Rooney said. “And I especially want to hear [American diplomat] Bill Taylor, and i especially want to hear ambassador John Bolton at some point.”

No local republicans have thrown their names in the ring yet to replace Rooney upon the end of his current term. But Sandra Pavelka, an FGCU political science professor, told us some name have come up.

“Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto, Representative Dane Eagle, Mayor Randy Henderson, Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass,” Pavelka said.

Pavelka also said Rooney’s decision comes at a pivotal moment for Southwest Florida.

“Our area probably is positioned for another congressional district after the next census,” Pavelka said. “So that will be significant as well. So then we’ll have two relatively new people in office.”

Reporter:Sydney Persing
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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