On Wednesday, Florida Republican second-term Rep.-elect Byron Donalds became the newest “spoiler” candidate for House speaker, nominated by a coalition of conservatives who want to prevent GOP leader Kevin McCarthy from being elected.
Donalds, a Brooklyn native who relocated to Florida for college, made headlines on Tuesday when he flipped his vote from McCarthy to Rep.-elect Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), despite having supported McCarthy twice before.
Then, on Wednesday, McCarthy‘s opponent, Rep.-elect Chip Roy (R-Texas), nominated Donalds for speaker on the fourth ballot, praising the 44-year-old as the type of outsider who might drain the Washington “swamp.”
Roy noted that New York‘s Democratic leader, Hakeem Jeffries, was also nominated by his party for speaker, bringing the total number of black Americans nominated for the position to two for the first time in American history.
Byron’s nomination is crucial since the country is in dire need of a new direction. “This city, this community, is broken, and that is not the kind of leadership this country needs,” Roy remarked.
On the fifth ballot, Republican Representative for Colorado Lauren Boebert nominated Donalds once more, and on the sixth ballot, Republican Representative for Pennsylvania Scott Perry did the same. On each of the three ballots, 20 Republicans supported Donalds, but the bulk of the Republican conference remained loyal to McCarthy.
With a Wall Street Journal profile portraying him as “a strong, Trump-supporting, gun-owning, liberty-loving, pro-life, politically incorrect black man,” Donalds is a rising star in the Republican Party and was elected to the House for the first time in 2020.
Roy, speaking of his coworker on Wednesday, said, “Byron Donalds is a fine man reared by a single mom who went through difficulties, became a Christian man at the age of 21, and has devoted his life to promoting the cause for his family and his country and he has done brilliantly.”
The bio on Donald’s congressional website states that his mother “spent her time [to] instilling in him that greatness needs sacrifice,” which “drives him as a committed family man and United States Congressman.” Donalds was reared by his mother in Crown Heights.
The first of Donald’s two run-ins with the law occurred the year after he graduated from Nazareth Regional High School in East Flatbush in 1996; he was accused of distributing marijuana. Because Donalds participated in a pretrial diversion program, the accusation against him was dropped.
Donalds eventually enrolled at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee but was again arrested on bribery charges related to a bank fraud conspiracy. I met a girl 15 years ago. In a 2014 TV interview, Donalds said, “She offered me $1,000 for my bank card and my PIN.”
Although I never did recover the lost $1,000, I ultimately had to pay back the bank more than $7,000. However, the case was eventually dropped, and Donalds went on to earn a degree in finance and marketing at Florida State University, located nearby. He graduated in 2002.
He explained his transformation back into a moral person by saying, “I just started coming to church and I started truly scrutinizing my life and my decisions.” Donalds entered politics in 2012, after ten years in the banking and finance industry when he ran for the House of Representatives and came in fifth in a primary with six other Republicans.
His aspirations were set lower in 2016, when he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives, where he would eventually spend two terms. To fill the seat of the retiring Republican Representative Francis Rooney in Florida’s 19th Congressional District, he first won the Republican primary in August 2020 and then the general election in November 2020.
Re-election for Donalds was on November 8th, and he received 68% of the vote. Together with his wife Erika, he and their three boys, Damon, Darin, and Mason, make their home in Naples, Florida.
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