Although the field is crowded, there are still a lot of big names out there that could make a run at the open seat.
State Rep. Bob Rommel was one of those big names. The Naples Republican openly mulled a run for Rooney's seat this year, and many considered Rommel to be the most conservative choice.
But according to Rommel, it doesn't look like he'll be throwing his hat in the crowded race.
In a statement released by his team, Rommel addressed speculation of a run and announced his intentions for congressional district 19.
Rommel issued the following statement on CD 19:
"Over the past several weeks since Congressman Francis Rooney announced that he would not be seeking re-election to the Florida Congressional District 19 seat, I have been encouraged by family, friends, and many supporters to consider a candidacy for Congress. Like many of my supporters, I remain deeply concerned that we need consistent, conservative representation in Congress if we are to keep America secure and prosperous.
“Raising the debt ceiling must stop being the default option for a Congress that cannot stop over-spending its budget. The national debt is rapidly becoming the foremost threat to our national security and our economic vitality, and left unchanged, we will be headed for bankruptcy in the next 25 years. This will not only destroy wealth for this generation but for many generations afterward. We must prioritize our spending to focus on national security first. This defined the very initial purpose of forming the federal government. Our military must continue to be taken seriously by both China and Russia, our border must be secured, and our natural resources must be protected.
“In line with spending reform, we need more serious taxation reform. Our progressive income tax has continued to burden our economy and hurt the very people that it is supposed to help. Our leaders should exert the character and determination necessary to pass a flat income tax at a minimum and, even better, to replace the income tax with a national consumption tax as we have proven here in Florida to work so well.
“President Trump has begun to limit the power of federal agencies to impose authority never granted to them by Congress. But more must be done, and when we take Congress back in 2020, we must be serious about constraining agencies, reforming them, and in some cases, repealing them out of existence altogether. In the name of goodwill, the federal government, over time, has taken over many roles that should be relegated only to the states. With it, states and the people they represent have seen inefficiency, tyranny, and corruption grow at the federal level.
“I am passionate about these issues, and I am passionate about reform. With that being said, I am also passionate about Florida and about our state government, and I believe that for now, I can best serve our community by remaining in the Florida legislature and helping Governor Ron DeSantis, Speaker Oliva, and incoming Speaker Sprowls with our agenda to keep Florida as a world-class destination for economic opportunity.
Rommel's decision to not run for the seat is a surprise given Rommel's conservative leadership and success in the Florida House. His assignment of benefits (AOB) fight last legislative session was a win for all Floridians and made Rommel a household name.
With his record, legislation and increase in political stock, Rommel would have been arguably the most conservative candidate in the field had he entered the race.
With that said, Rommel plans to continue to put his focus into making a difference in the Florida legislature. He has a number of bills this session aimed at lowering taxes and promoting the Constitution.
Rommel also said he will be watching the race for CD 19 closely and will make an endorsement in the near future.
“I will be watching this race for CD-19 closely and intend to engage at the right time in endorsing the person who I feel is the most principled and best able to lead our nation forward. I want to thank our many supporters and those that have encouraged us in our commitment to the conservative cause."
CD 19, located in southwestern Florida, includes Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Naples, and Marco Island.