MANATEE -- U.S. Rep. Thomas J. Rooney, a Republican from Tequesta, took an early lead in the 17th Congressional District race, with 58.5 percent of the vote.
As of 11:20 p.m., his Democratic challenger, retiree William Bronson, of Lehigh Acres, was trailing with 41.5 percent of the vote.
No votes were recorded for write-in candidate Tom Bauman.
The 17th Congressional District includes the eastern edge of Manatee and Sarasota counties, and stretches through the middle of Florida.
During the campaign, Rooney said conservative principles were important to him, such as cutting spending, reducing the size of government, balancing the federal budget and strengthening national security.
Rooney was first elected to the U.S. House in 2008.
He has served as a member of the House Armed Services Committee; the Agriculture Committee, and the Select Committee on Intelligence, according to his congressional profile.
He also has chaired the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitternote>