On Monday, state Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Naples, entered the crowded Republican primary looking to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney, R-Fla.
Donalds stressed his conservative credentials as he entered the race.
“Today, I’m everything the fake news media tells you doesn’t exist, a strong Trump-supporting, gun-owning, liberty-loving, pro-life, politically incorrect black man,” said Donalds.“
I’m announcing my run for Congress to fight back against the liberal extremism that is destroying this country and our American Dream. I’m a proven defender of the Second Amendment, a proud supporter of President Donald Trump, and a leader in Florida’s school choice movement. As your next congressman, I will take my experience and proven leadership to Washington and fight back against the tyranny of the left. In Florida, I have proven that I do not back down from a fight, nor am I swayed by special interests and the whims of political leadership. In Washington, I will drain the swamp, fight socialism, and bring home wins for our conservative values here in Florida.,” he added.
This marks Donalds’ second official bid for the seat. He pulled 14 percent, placing fifth in the Republican primary back in 2012 when Trey Radel won the seat. Since then, Donalds has become far better known in the district thanks to winning a state House seat in 2016. He currently represents all of Hendry County and part of Collier County in the Florida House and chairs the House Insurance and Banking Subcommittee.
Donalds joins a crowded primary field. Other Republican candidates include actor and activist for disabled police firemen and veterans Darren Dione Aquino, activist Antonio Dumornay, state House Majority Leader Dane Eagle, R-Cape Coral, Dr. William Figlesthaler, state Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, R-Fort Myers, Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson attorney Ford O’Connell, former Minnesota state Rep. Dan “Doc” Severson and businessman and veteran Trae Zipperer.
On the Democratic side, college professor and businesswoman Cindy Banyai and businessman David Holden who was the party’s candidate last time out are running. The district, which includes parts of Lee and Collier Counties, is considered secure for the GOP.
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