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Republican Primary, Congressional District 19: Bongino, Goss, Rooney to vie in three-way primary

By Staff | Aug 10, 2016

A newcomer, a candidate with a political pedigree and a longtime GOP fundraiser and former ambassador will face off Aug. 30 in a Republican primary for the 19th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The seat is being vacated by incumbent Curt Clawson, who is not seeking re-election.

Don Bongino, Chauncey Goss and Francis Rooney and will vie a closed primary – registered Republicans only – with the winner taking on Democrat Robert Neeld and write-in candidates David Byron and Timothy John Rossano on Nov. 8.

Dan Bongino

Age: 41

Occupation: editor

Residence: Palm City

Former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino says that if he can be trusted with the life of a president, he can be trusted with a seat in federal government.

Bongino, who has not previously held elected office, said he can bring traditional conservative values to Washington.

“We’re entitled to a good conservative candidate and a fighter, and I’ve always been both, fighting for the residents in the district,” Bongino said. “I bring leadership and judgement, and the record shows what I’ve fought for.”

Bongino believes in a flat tax as a way to incentivize economic growth and the elimination of Obamacare. He supports the Second Amendment and the right to life from conception to natural death and believes in the need to rebuild our schools.

As for water quality, Bongino said he would demand expedited timelines for repairs of the Lake Okeechobee dike, strategic land use north and south of the lake, and the development of new water treatment areas.

He said the federal government needs to do more to fix the issue, since it created the problem in the first place.

“If we don’t fix the water issue we won’t have a Congressional district. We have to get the land move the water south,” Bongino said. “The federal government built the dike and hasn’t even orchestrated a plan for it. Their role will be to fulfill their obligations, and my role will be to get the stakeholders to the table and make them hold to timelines and metrics.”

Chauncey Goss

Age: 50

Occupation: consultant

Residence: Sanibel

Chauncey Goss is a city of Sanibel councilman who also is heavily involved with a number of local boards. Among them are the Board of the Canterbury School, where he serves as chair; the Southwest Florida Community Foundation; United Way and the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation.

The consulting firm he founded in 2010 “provides budget forecasting and federal fiscal policy analysis.” He spent eight years in D.C., first at the Office of Management and Budget and then for the House Budget Committee.

He previously ran for the District 19 seat, losing the GOP primary for U.S. Rep. in 2012 to Trey Radel.

He is the son of Porter Goss, who served in the House of Representatives for 15 years before becoming director of the CIA.

Goss said his being a lifelong Floridian gives him the edge. The reasons he is running now are the same as they were in 2012: national security, immigration and the debt.

“We need to make sure the military is taken care of. We need to take care of the debt because it is a national security issue as it limits what you can do,” Goss said. “I also support securing the borders.”

Another reason he is running are issues related to the environment and water. The problem has been the district has had five congressmen in 12 years, he said, and as a result, little progress has been made.

“We’ve taken our eye off the ball at the federal level making sure we had a quarterback to make sure someone was following through on the issue,” Goss said. “Whenever someone has gotten traction, they end up leaving.”

Goss said the Florida Congressional delegation needs to come together with the governor to fast track the issue in Washington.

“If we can get like-minded focused people working on this, we made the problem, we can fix the problem,” Goss said.

Francis Rooney

Age: 62

Occupation: Business owner, Construction

Residence: Naples

Francis Rooney has yet to hold an elected office, but he has had a long history of political involvement, being a top fundraiser and contributor for former president George W. Bush and 2012 candidate Mitt Romney.

Rooney was also U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See while serving as the CEO of Rooney Holdings and is principal owner of Manhattan Construction Company.

Rooney never expected to run for office, but saw the things that are wrong with the country – which he has written about – not getting done.

“There are things I’d like the Republican Party to do for a more optimistic agenda based on limited government and free enterprise principles,” Rooney said. “When Curt decided to leave office, my wife said this would be a good opportunity to put into practice the same principles I’ve been writing about.”

Rooney said his business background gives him the edge and that being “an outsider” will bring fresh perspective to government.

Rooney supports restoring national security by sealing off our borders, going after terrorists and stopping the abuse of the visa system, and creating more jobs.

Rooney also said he would make government hold to its promise to the state in 2000 by funding half of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) to restore the Everglades.

“The government pledged to fund half the cost and the state has done a lot. Congress can use business principles to implement a strategy for us to compete for infrastructure dollar,” Rooney said. “We also need to fix the Hoover Dike. If the government doesn’t want to do it, I suppose we can give Florida $1 billion to do it, but I don’t suppose the government would want to do that.”