Florida Rep. Francis Rooney, who broke with many of his Republican colleagues when he said he wouldn’t rule out supporting the impeachment of President Donald Trump, announced he will not seek reelection next year.
The two-term Republican grew more receptive this week to the House impeachment inquiry after acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said in a televised briefing that seeking help to investigate Democrats was part of the reason military aid to Ukraine was temporarily withheld.
Rooney, a former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican under President George W. Bush, told Fox News on Saturday he hoped more of his Republican colleagues would publicly express their concerns over the administration’s conduct toward Ukraine.
Asked if he needed a third term, Rooney said, “I don’t really think I do, and I don’t really think I want one.”
When pressed by Fox News host Leland Vittert if it would be safe to add his name to the list of Republicans not running for reelection in 2020, the congressman said it would.
“I’ve done what I came to do, and I want to be a model for term limits,” said Rooney, who had initially pledged to serve three terms.
Rooney said he came to Congress to help get funding for projects in the Florida Everglades and to try to get an offshore drilling ban passed. “We’ve gotten all the major projects underway,” he said. He has also broken with many in his party on climate change.
Trump won Rooney’s southwest Florida seat by 22 points in 2016. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales had rated the race for the 19th District Solid Republican.
On Friday, Rooney told CNN that “whatever might have been gray and unclear before is certainly clear right now” with regard to the administration’s alleged quid pro quo of military aid to Ukraine for an investigation into Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee.
The Florida Republican had acknowledged that his criticism of the president’s alleged demands could damage him politically.
“I’m definitely at variance with some of the people in the district who would probably follow Donald Trump off the Grand Canyon rim,” he said.
Bridget Bowman, Griffin Connolly and Simone Pathé contributed to this report.
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