Florida’s Republican Rep. Tom Rooney is retiring rather than seeking a sixth term this fall.
Rooney, a lawmaker in a safe GOP district in central Florida, surprised party leaders with his announcement Monday.
“After what will be 10 years in the United States Congress representing the good people of Florida’s Heartland, it’s time to ‘hang ‘em up’ as my old football coach used to say. I will not be running for re-election to Congress in 2018,” he said in a statement.
He thanked staffers and congressional colleagues, naming several whose “unyielding friendship and loyalty will never be forgotten.”
“Most of all, I would like to thank my family, especially my mom and dad, my wife Tara and my sons Tommy, Sean Patrick, and Seamus. You have sacrificed so much so I could follow my dreams. Now it’s time for me to better support yours,” he said. “I look forward to serving Florida again in the future in a different capacity. Keep the faith. Sainte!”
Rooney just two days earlier had issued a detailed call for lawmakers to increase funding for several programs intended to keep schools safe in the wake of the shooting in Parkland, Florida.
“As I’ve thought about the Parkland shooting, it’s become clear to me we need to do more to prevent these tragedies. That’s why I am requesting increased funding to keep our schools safe,” he said on Twitter. “This is the time. Congress must act now.”
Rooney represents an overwhelmingly Republican district south of Orlando and Tampa that President Donald Trump won by 27 percentage points in 2016 – so it’s likely to remain in GOP hands in November.