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All in the Family for Rooneys ... Just Don't Mention Roethlisberger

While U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta, defends his 16th Congressional District seat this November, older brother Pat Rooney Jr. is running for a state House seat.

"When he told me, I said, 'Are you crazy?''' Rep. Rooney related Monday during a visit to John Carroll Catholic High School in Fort Pierce.

The 83rd House District seat is currently occupied by Carl Domino, R-Jupiter, who is term-limited and running for state Senate.

Former Palm Beach Gardens Councilman Hal Valeche, who lost to Tom Rooney by 1,000 votes in the 2008 GOP congressional primary, has endorsed Pat Jr.

Noting the prospect of a $6 billion state deficit next year -- double the one faced by lawmakers this year -- and the expiration of some stimulus money, the 2011 Legislature could be in for hard(er) times.

As for the freshman congressman, he will face one of two Democrats: Ed Tautiva or Jim Horn, a Republican who turned independent before declaring as a Democrat.

"Maybe they'll beat each other up a little bit," he said.

The 16th District has been rocked by scandal in recent years, with Republican Rep. Mark Foley ousted in a page-sex scandal and his single-term successor, Democrat Tim Mahoney, imploding with extramarital affairs.

Footnote No. 1: The Rooneys are grandsons of Pittsburgh Steelers founder Art Rooney. When asked about his favorite NFL team, Tom Rooney responded:

"The Steelers, I have no choice. But," referencing Ben Roethlisburger's repeated run-ins with the law, Rooney added, "our quarterback is still an idiot."

Footnote No. 2: Another Rooney brother, Brian, is running for a congressional seat in Michigan. All three brothers are Republicans.

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