State of play: A GOP ‘Contender,’ Fitzenhagen’s finances, a Banyai announcement

02-20-20 Dane Eagle WGCUState Rep. Dane Eagle interviewed by WGCU.                      (Photo: Victoria Alvarez/WGCU-FM)

Feb. 21, 2020 by David Silverberg

In what is a virtual Party endorsement, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) on Wednesday, Feb. 19, named State Rep. Dane Eagle (R-77-Cape Coral) one of its national “Contenders.”

The Contenders are Republican congressional candidates singled out for special notice and support. Coming in the heat of sometimes contentious primary races, the program effectively amounts to a way for the national Republican Party to endorse a candidate without overtly intervening in an internal party contest.

Of the eight Republicans running for the seat in Southwest Florida’s 19th Congressional District, only Eagle was named a Contender. He was one of three Florida Republicans named to the program.

The Contender list is part of the NRCC’s “Young Guns” program, which develops candidates and requires them to work toward specific goals and meet election benchmarks. “Contender candidates have completed stringent program metrics and are on the path to developing a mature and competitive campaign operation,” according to the program’s website.

Thirty-five congressional candidates around the country were named Contenders, which is the second tier of the program. The first tier is called “On the radar,” which means that the candidates have come to the attention of the national party and have the potential to succeed in their races. Party donors can direct contributions to the candidates through the program.

“These hardworking candidates have proven their ability to run strong, competitive campaign operations,” stated Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-23-Calif.), the House minority leader. “We’re going to ensure these contenders are victorious in November by forcing their Democratic opponents to own their party’s radical socialist agenda.”

“I am incredibly thankful to Leader McCarthy for his hard work to make Congress red again and am honored to be on his list of Contenders,” Eagle stated on his website.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) does not have a similar program, although its Frontline program supports Democrats who won seats in 2018. However, No Democrat Left Behind, a coalition of groups supporting Democratic candidates running in heavily Republican districts, endorsed Democratic congressional Cindy Banyai in November.

Fitzenhagen’s finances and what they mean

12-04-19 Fitzenhagen headshot cropped
Heather Fitzenhagen

State Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen (R-78-Fort Myers) raised $31,550 in the last quarter of 2019, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Fitzenhagen was a latecomer to the contest, only filing her candidacy on Dec. 19, 2019.

All the money was raised in 24 donations and there were no loans. All but two of the donors were from Florida. The exceptions came from Texas and Colorado.

Fitzenhagen spent $1,158.75 during the period, all of it with Anedot, Baton Rouge, La., the fundraising consultant also being used by candidates William Figlethaler and Dane Eagle.

This completes The Paradise Progressive’s 4th quarter financial survey of the candidate FEC filings in the 19th Congressional District.  Republican candidates Darren Aquino and State Rep. Byron Donalds (R-80-Immokalee) and Independent Antonio Dumornay did not file any donations or expenditures. Democratic filings were covered in the article: Updated: O’Connell, Holden lead in 4th quarter fundraising in 19th Congressional District).

Banyai announces divorce

10-19-19 Cindy Banyai
Cindy Banyai

On Friday, Feb. 14, in a press release and announcement, Democratic congressional candidate Cindy Banyai announced that she and her husband were separating prior to their divorce.

“Like all families, we’ve had our fair share of struggles,” she announced. “Unfortunately, my husband and I are separating as we prepare for our divorce.”

Banyai will still be running: “I fully plan to continue this campaign because the stakes are simply too high to pack it in now,” she stated. “I am sure that my ability to be a mother and be a candidate will be questioned, but that is just the unfortunate reality of being a woman in American politics.”

Banyai is the mother of three children, aged 10, 6 and 2. Her husband, Andrew, is executive director of the Lee County Legal Aid Society, a private, non-profit organization that provides free legal aid to low-income residents.

“I have had a lot of jobs throughout my life. I am a mother, a small business owner, and a candidate for Congress. Like millions of other women in America, I have to manage a delicate balance between my family, my business, as well as my campaign,” she stated. “This will no doubt be a difficult time for myself, my children, and our entire family. While I understand I am a public figure, due to my run for Congress, I hope that my opponents and the media will respect the privacy of myself and my family during this difficult time.”

Liberty lives in light

© 2020 by David Silverberg






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