Congressional candidate Cindy Banyai revealed she and husband Andrew have legally separated to “prepare for our divorce.”
“This will no doubt be a difficult time for myself, my children, and our entire family,” Banyai said in a statement. “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.”
The Fort Myers Democrat has prominently featured her family and personal story in campaign materials. On her official website, Banyai wrote she “married my high school sweetheart.” Her campaign Twitter handle is @SWFLMom2020.
The Banyais in August celebrated their 10-year anniversary, according to Andrew’s Facebook page.
Banyai last year originally filed to challenge U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney before the Naples Republican announced he would not seek a third term. At the time, she stressed her family story as the mother of an infant with autoimmune hemolytic anemia.
The Florida Gulf Coast University professor has stepped up her campaign a bit since this became a race for an open seat. She closed 2019 with $11,000 cash on hand. But she’s also now one of two Democrats and 11 total candidates running in a heavily Republican district, as opposed to being Rooney’s only foe.
Banyai did not reveal what spurred the decision for her and her husband to part ways.
“I have had a lot of jobs throughout my life,” she said. “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. Like all families, we’ve had our fair share of struggles.”
She also called on media not to apply unfair scrutiny that they would not place on a man in a similar situation.
“Female candidates are often subjected to unfair double-standard in politics. I’ve lost count of the times that I have been asked who is taking care of your children or is your husband OK with you running? These questions would never be asked of a male candidate,” she said.
“I fully plan to continue this campaign because the stakes are simply too high to pack it in now. 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.”