Rooney readies for general election
He may have won the Republican primary for the U.S. Rep. District 19 seat by a wide margin, but Francis Rooney isn’t taking anything for granted as he prepares for the general election in November.
Rooney vows to continue to spread his message while bringing those who did not vote for him on not only to his side, but for his fellow upticket Republicans as well.
Rooney, who spent heavily on TV ads during the primary campaign, much of it with his own money, won big Tuesday beating two opponents, Dan Bongino and Chauncey Goss, with 52.73 percent of the vote. Goss had 29.88 percent, while Bongino finished with 17.39 percent.
“I’m happy that the message of the outside businessman who’s been in the community for a while resonated and connected with the people. I’m looking forward to the chance to work hard to win the general election and represent a wonderful place to live,” Rooney said.
Rooney will face Democrat Robert Neeld and two write-in candidates, David Byron and Timothy Rossano, on Nov. 8.
But even though the district has traditionally been a GOP stronghold, Rooney said the fight isn’t over for the seat Curt Clawson decided not to seek re-election for.
“This is a general election and I’ll be taking a long weekend and get back to it, meeting more people in the Southwest Florida community, finding out their concerns,” Rooney said. “Knocking on doors and keeping the campaign up.”
He said he would continue to drive home the message of real-world experience to solve problems, such as getting the money to help solve the area’s water woes.
“We need to get the money the federal government owes us for 50 percent of the SERP they never paid in 16 years and fight hard against government overreach and job killing overregulation,” Rooney said.
Rooney was gratified that more than 500 people contributed to his campaign. What Rooney will do now is try to reach out to those who didn’t vote for him and explain himself to them, believing that their beliefs aren’t that different.
The goal is to unify them not only for his campaign, but for those of embattled candidates Donald Trump and Marco Rubio.
“We need to unify all our Republicans here and Southwest Florida and get them behind our top-ticket nominees. We need to push hard for victory for limited government and freedom,” Rooney said.
Rooney said he doesn’t think that rallying behind a candidate who has been as divisive in his own party like Trump will prove to be a hindrance.
“Regardless of who we’ve been for during the primary season, and I was for other people, we have Donald Trump as our nominee. I don’t want Hillary Clinton. To me, it’s a binary choice,” Rooney said.
Rooney, 62, is a Naples-based businessman. He has led Rooney Holdings, Inc. a privately-held international investment company of which the Manhattan Construction Group is a subsidiary, for more than 30 years. He has never held public office but has a long history of political involvement.
He was a top fundraiser and contributor for former president George W. Bush and 2012 candidate Mitt Romney.
Appointed by Bush, he served as U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See from 2005-2008.