David Holden and Cindy Banyai are introduced by Collier County Democratic Chair Annisa Karim. (Photo: Author)
Jan. 16, 2020 by David Silverberg
Congressional candidates Cindy Banyai and David Holden pledged last night to support whoever is the winner of the Democratic Party’s primary on August 18.
Both are running for Congress in the 19th Congressional District whose seat is being vacated by Republican Rep. Francis Rooney.
The two shared the stage for the first time at the Collier County Democratic Party’s Progressive Caucus meeting at the Party’s headquarters in Naples.
The event gave both an opportunity to introduce themselves to voters in a non-debate forum.
Banyai characterized herself as a mother and small business owner concerned about “our water, our health and our community” with a priority on “clean water, jobs and access to transportation.”
She recounted that when her daughter was stricken with a rare blood disease, she found herself fighting with insurance companies to cover her care and characterized US healthcare as “this absolutely and ludicrously broken system,” which she said she would work to fix.
On environmental issues, she said that people in Southwest Florida felt betrayed by the government that over the past eight years had done nothing to clean or protect the environment and she pledged to hold polluters accountable. When asked about specific measures to take as opposed to further studies of red tide and other water issues, however, Banyai was vague in naming actions that could be taken.
Noting that she had once worked as a professional prize fighter, she said, “I know that when it comes to being tough in Congress, I know that although I may be young, and although I may be a woman, I know I will be the one that goes toe to toe with the toughest opponent to fight for the people of Southwest Florida.”
David Holden, who ran for the same seat in 2018, focused on defeating President Donald Trump and his agenda. Decrying the “abject collapse of Republican leadership” and its traditional values and priorities, Holden argued that Democrats “will not win by disguising who we are.”
Recounting a TV interview, he recalled being asked if he could work with President Trump. “I said, ‘I’ll work with the president when the president’s right.’ Fortunately, they didn’t ask me for any examples.”
He said that if Republican strongholds like Kentucky and Alabama could elect Democrats, then so could Florida. “This state is ready to become Democratic again,” he said. “There are enough Democrats, independents and a little sliver of sane Republicans and if we can get them to the polls we can win.”
Lee County, he said, “is the trump card of Florida’s Republican Party, the only county in the state with a population of over 500,000 that’s still red” and it’s the backstop in the presidential campaign.
“We have neglected vast parts of Lee County,” he argued. “Those are folks who used to vote for Democrats, when Democrats talked to them about the things they were concerned about.”
People, he said are concerned about their safety, their future, their children and their homes. He called for giving people affordable healthcare and “a standard of living that respects their human dignity” as well as good jobs as opposed to the low-wage jobs that are being generated now. He called for investing in people and building a community that helps them meet their needs. In contrast, he said, this year Republican candidates in Southwest Florida are offering nothing but abject worship of Trump.
Holden said he has already raised $100,000 and he was investing the money in staff for a vigorous campaign that will emphasize grassroots organizing and turning out voters. He intends to double the $600,000 he raised in his 2018 race. He also noted that he had been endorsed by Todd Truax, his opponent in the 2018 primary.
“We’re investing in people here to help us get out message out, to identify our voters and to make sure they vote” he said. “And if they vote for me that means they’ll vote for the Democratic nominee for president and we’ll both win,”
Liberty lives in light
© 2020 by David Silverberg