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CD 17: Tom Rooney a Heavy Favorite to Win a 3rd Term

July 25, 2012 - 6:00pm

Seeking a third congressional term this November, U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla.,starts off as a heavy favorite to win renomination and the general election in November, despite facing CD 17, a different district than the one he currently represents.

First elected over Democrat U.S. Rep. Tim Mahoney in 2008, Rooneys background as a West Point instructor and JAG corps officer in the Army helped prepare him to serve on the Committee on Armed Services and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. But Rooney has also been focused on rural issues, leading to the Florida Republican chairing the Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry and sitting on the Committee on Agriculture. Rooney has also served in the GOP leadership as a deputy whip.

For the last four years, Rooney has represented a district that stretches across Florida, touching both the Atlantic and the Gulf, containing parts of Charlotte, Glades, Hendry, Highlands, Martin, Okeechobee, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties. After the Legislature tackled redistricting earlier in the year, Rooney now aims to represent all of Charlotte, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Highlands and Okeechobee counties and parts of Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee and Polk counties.

As he runs for a third term and introduces himself to new voters, Rooney appears to be in excellent shape to win the Republican primary and the general election. At the end of the second quarter of 2012, he raked in more than $545,500 in contributions and more than $367,000 from PACs. So far this election cycle, Rooney has kept most of his money on hand, with almost $627,000 in the bank.

Rooney faces a challenger for the Republican nomination from Okeechobee County School Board member Joe Arnold. Arnold, a teacher and small farmer, insists he will be more conservative on fiscal issues that Rooney. So far, Arnold has raised almost $2,500 from individuals and relied on more than $9,500 of his own funds. By the end of June, he had more than $4,300 on hand.

Whoever emerges from the Republican primary on Aug. 14 will be a favorite over the other candidates in the race. William Bronson, a former Delta pilot who served in the Navy and graduated from divinity school, has the Democratic nomination. Bronson had been active in the GOP in other states, making congressional bids in Massachusetts and Georgia during the 1970s and 1980s and backing George H.W. Bushs presidential bid in 1980. Bronson has not submitted any financial activity to the Federal Elections Commission.

Tom Baumann from the Socialist Workers Party is running for the seat as a write-in candidate.

Reach Kevin Derby at or at (850) 727-0859.

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