State of Play: Byron Donalds enters contest for Rooney’s seat; Holden, Fitzenhagen launch campaigns

01-06-20 Trump and DonaldsByron Donalds embraces President Donald Trump at a 2019 awards ceremony in South Carolina.       (Byron Donalds campaign video)

Jan. 6, 2020 by David Silverberg

01-06-20 Byron Donalds
Byron Donalds

The 19th Congressional District has an eleventh declared candidate today as State Rep. Byron Donalds (R-80-Immokalee) announced in a campaign video that he will be running for the seat currently held by Rep. Francis Rooney.

This makes eight Republicans vying for the seat.

Donalds, long a self-described conservative, is running on a pro-Trump platform.

“I am everything the fake news media tells you doesn’t exist: a strong, Trump-supporting, gun-owning, liberty-loving, pro-life, politically incorrect black man,” he says in the video.

Donalds, 41, born in Brooklyn, NY and now a resident of Naples, has served in the Florida House of Representatives since 2016. He describes himself as a businessman.

He attended Florida A&M University and graduated Florida State University with a bachelor of science degree. He’s married to Erika Donalds, a vocal public education critic, and has three children. The rural 80th District covers parts of eastern Collier and Hendry counties.

Donalds first ran for Congress in the 19th District in 2012 when he was defeated in a five-way Republican primary by Trey Radel. In 2016 he defeated Joe Davidow in the 80th District Republican primary, which he won with 64.3 percent of the vote, putting him in the seat he holds now.  In 2018, he defeated Democrat Jennifer Boddicker and Independent Dustin Lapolla in the general election, with 62.1 percent of 61,019 votes cast.

In his video, Donalds starts with a past drug bust that he says prompted him to turn his life around. “As a young man I was arrested for drug possession and theft. I knew I had to get my life together—and through the grace of God, I did,” he says of the undated event.

In a slap at gun control measures passed by the Florida legislature in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, Donalds states in his video: “When my own party caved to the liberals on your Second Amendment rights, I fought them—and will again.”

He also states that “I believe in the Constitution, the wall and that Socialism is another name for disaster” and he says, “Make no mistake, I will stand with the president against these impeachment radicals who trample our Constitution and paralyze our country with their dangerous lies.”

As of noon today, Donalds’ candidacy was not yet registered with the Federal Election Commission.

Campaign launches

This week two congressional candidates will officially launch their campaigns.

On Friday, Jan. 10, Democrat David Holden will hold his official campaign launch with a rally at Fleischman Park in Naples, from 4 to 7 pm, followed the next day by a second event in Fort Myers at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater from 10 am to 12:30 pm.

On Wednesday, Jan. 8, Republican Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen (R-78-Fort Myers) will hold her campaign kickoff event at the Society restaurant in the Bell Tower mall in Fort Myers from 5 to 7 pm.



Liberty lives in light

© 2020 by David Silverberg


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