Allen Ellison to be roasted by Cindy Banyai at black-tie fundraiser in Sebring
Allen Ellison, Cindy Banyai

Ellison Banyai
The event has been billed as an inaugural U.S. Congressional Correspondents Dinner.

Sebring Democrat Allen Ellison will host a black-tie fundraiser tonight at the Island View Restaurant.

As he raises money to run in Florida’s 17th Congressional District, a candidate in a neighboring district, Cindy Banyai, will roast him on stage.

The U.S. Congressional Correspondents Dinner has been marketed as something akin to the White House Correspondents Dinner. In addition to Banyai, comedian Jason “Smartmouth” Alexander will host, with music provided by Andrew Luv and the Franchise Players.

This is the first fundraiser of the year for Ellison, who is running to unseat U.S. Rep. Greg Steube, a Sarasota Republican.

“This will be the first major Red Carpet, Black Tie Fundraiser event of the year,” reads an invitation to the event.

“We anticipate a very special evening of live entertainment, food, roasts and a word from Allen Ellison, 2018 Democratic Nominee and Candidate for United States House of Representatives for Florida’s 17th Congressional District as our Keynote Speaker.”

Democrat Theodore Murray has also filed in the district.

Should Ellison win the nomination, it will be a rematch of sorts. Ellison stepped in as a replacement nominee in the district in late 2018 after the unexpected death of April Freeman. His name did not appear on the ballot, but votes cast for Freeman were awarded to him. But Steube ultimately won election to the House in a landslide, with more than 62% of the vote.

Ellison hopes to fare better this year with a campaign started more than a year out and a genuine run for the seat.

Banyai, for her part, is one of the Democrats running in Florida’s 19th Congressional District to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney. She faces David Holder in the Democratic primary.

Like Ellison, she’s running in a deep-red district. Rooney defeated Holden with upward of 62% of the vote in 2018.

Ellison and Banyai are endorsed by No Dem Left Behind.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


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