Conservative leader Dan Bongino, an ally of former U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., is running for Congress.
On Friday, Bongino filed paperwork with the FEC launching his candidacy for the Southwest Florida congressional seat held by retiring Republican Curt Clawson. Bongino joins Chauncey Goss and Francis Rooney in the GOP primary for what is considered a safe Republican seat.
“We're definitely exploring options in the 19th,” Bongino informed Sunshine State News on Monday. “It's a conservative district and they deserve an authentic conservative voice."
A former New York City cop and Secret Service agent, Bongino was the Republican candidate who challenged U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., in 2012. Cardin routed Bongino, taking 55 percent while the Republican won only 27 percent of the vote and independent Rob Sobhani carried 17 percent.
Later, Bongino shocked the political world and almost pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the election cycle when he lost to U.S. Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., by a narrow margin in a district where the Democrats have the advantage.
Since then, Bongino and his family moved from Maryland to Palm City on Florida's Treasure Coast -- and promptly started getting asked questions about his political future. Bongino told Sunshine State News last year that he had been approached to run for Congress in CD 18, the seat currently held by Democrat Patrick Murphy, and for the U.S. Senate. Opting out of a Senate run, Bongino threw his support to Republican Ron DeSantis.
Looking back at his previous bids for office, Bongino said he was “astounded” by how early West backed him through his Guardian Fund PAC. While Murphy narrowly beat him in 2012, West, a favorite of the tea party movement, remained active and endorsed Bongino’s congressional efforts in October 2013, more than a year before the election.For his part, Bongino spoke at an event West held in South Florida in the spring of 2014.
West offered Bongino praise and support during the 2014 campaign. In January 2014, West emailed supporters to highlight the congressional candidate and praise his record.
“Dan served in the elite Secret Service Presidential Protection Division under President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama," West wrote. “During his time protecting Obama, Dan witnessed some things that deeply disturbed him, and ultimately motivated him to seek office. Now he's speaking out and in turn, he's receiving a whole host of criticism and baseless attacks.
“Dan Bongino is a true American hero," West added. “He put his life on the line to protect two presidents, and I have no doubt he'll guard our conservative values and the Constitution with the same valor."
Bongino has remained busy since losing in 2014. He hosts radio shows, including filling in for Sean Hannity and Mark Levin, and has his own podcast. In 2013, Bongino’s “Life Inside the Bubble,” an account of his time with the Secret Service, was a bestseller. His “The Fight: A Secret Service Agent's Inside Account of Security Failings and the Political Machine” was released in January.