In a replay of the 2012 contest in the 17th Congressional District, Republican incumbent Tom Rooney faces Democratic challenger Will Bronson. The sprawling district includes all or portions of 10 counties, including a large swath of East Manatee.
Manatee County only holds 1 percent of the district's population. The entire district is one of the largest agricultural regions in the country, with dairy, citrus, beef, fruit and vegetable farms.
Rooney, an Okeechobee resident, was first elected to Congress in 2008. He has been a strong ally of the agriculture industry, fighting excessive government regulation and red tape with bipartisan support. An attorney with the Army JAG Corps who also taught law at West Point, Rooney advocates for another major constituency in his district: veterans and the military.
Like Rep. Vern Buchanan, Rooney, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, supported federal funding into the devastating citrus greening disease. He also promotes legislation aimed at removing government obstacles to job creation, and he supports rewriting the tax code to produce a fairer, simpler and competitive system.
Rooney also has a history of accessibility and constituent service. Along with his policy positions that favor his district, he has earned another term. The Herald recommends Tom Rooney for U.S. House District 17.