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Francis Rooney says he won’t run for U.S. Senate

Francis Rooney, the former ambassador to the Holy See, is not running for the U.S. Senate.

In an email Monday, Rooney said he decided not to run for the seat being vacated by Sen. Marco Rubio. The Naples Republican said the time wasn’t right for him to jump into the race.

“While we desperately need business people in public office who have made actually payrolls and created jobs, the political environment is not right for me to undertake this race at this time,” said Rooney in an email to FloridaPolitics.com. “We need to promote policies which are grounded in free enterprise and individual freedom instead of the government and which will stimulate wage growth and expansion of the economy. I know we can do this and look forward to working to advance these issues.”

Rooney has been mentioned as a possible contender for several months. In March, POLITICO Florida reported he was meeting with Republican operatives to discuss a run.

That news came just weeks after Rooney told FloridaPolitics.com that he wasn’t considering getting into the race. At the time, Rooney said he was focused on helping Jeb Bush in his bid for the presidency.

Rooney, the CEO of Rooney Holdings, is a top Republican fundraiser, and has spent decades behind the scenes helping Republican candidates. He is a long-time friend and supporter of the Bush family, helping President George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush get elected.

In 2005, President George W. Bush appointed him to serve as the United States ambassador to the Vatican. He served in that role until 2008. According to the Naples Daily News, Rooney’s construction company, Manhattan Construction, was selected to build both presidents’ presidential libraries.

Rooney’s decision not to enter the race does little to cull the Republican field. Five Republicans — Rep. David Jolly, Rep. Ron DeSantis, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Todd Wilcox and Carlos Beruff, both businessmen — are vying to for their party’s nomination.

Rubio announced he would not seek re-election, opting to run for president instead. In March, the Miami Republican suspended his presidential campaign. He has said he still does not plan to run for re-election.

The Republican Senate primary is Aug. 30.

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