A black Trump-supporting Florida state House representative has advanced as the GOP’s nominee for the state’s 19th Congressional District after beating out eight other candidates in a tight election Tuesday.
What are the details?
Byron Donalds won the primary with 23,480 votes — or 22.6% — edging second-place finisher, Dane Eagle, by just 774 votes, the Fort Myers News-Press reported. The district is currently represented by Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.), but Rooney opted not to run again after promising in 2016 to serve only two terms.
Now Donalds will move on to the November general election to face Democratic nominee Cindy Banyai in the heavily Republican district that includes Fort Myers and Naples.
“It was tough and everyone fought incredibly hard, but with a mixture of hard work by ourselves and by our teams on the ground, enough voters saw my record and made a decision I would do a great job representing them in Congress,” Donalds told Florida Politics Tuesday night.
Donalds, who grew up poor in Brooklyn, New York, in a single-parent household, moved to southwest Florida after graduating from Florida State University in 2002. He worked in banking and finance before deciding to run for the state legislature in 2016.
In a video posted on his campaign website, Donalds describes himself as “everything the fake news media tells you doesn’t exist: a strong Trump-supporting, gun-owning, liberty-loving, pro-life, politically incorrect black man.”
Byron Donalds for Congress
Donalds received endorsements from several major conservative organizations including Club for Growth, FreedomWorks, and the National Rifle Association.
Donalds’ candidacy was reportedly almost derailed by a last-minute text blast claiming that he had dropped out of the race.
According to Florida Politics, the text message read, “While it may seem disappointing, I promise that my fight to expand the party and defend President Trump is now over” and displayed a screenshot of Donalds with his wife and one of their children above a manufactured news headline.
Club For Growth reportedly countered the attack by sending 80,000 texts in the district setting the record straight.
Donalds accused a campaign consultant for Casey Askar, one of his primary opponents, of being behind the trick. The consultant, Jeff Roe, reportedly worked for the Ted Cruz presidential campaign in 2016 when a similar trick alleging Ben Carson had dropped out of the race was played before the Iowa caucuses.
The Askar campaign has vehemently denied any involvement.