Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has endorsed Naples Republican Byron Donalds for an open House seat in Southwest Florida.
“Congress needs proven liberty-loving conservatives like Byron Donalds,” said Paul, a prominent voice among libertarian-leaning Republicans.
Donalds, a state lawmaker running in Florida’s 19th Congressional District, heralded the endorsement on Twitter.
“Honored to have the endorsement of such a prominent and persistent defender of our Constitution,” Donalds wrote. “I look forward to Sen. Rand Paul’s support in our campaign to send a proven Conservative to Congress. Together we will stand against the radical Left and defend our Republic.”
Donalds is one of nine Republicans running for the GOP nomination in hopes of succeeding retiring Rep. Francis Rooney.
That’s been important in helping Donalds keep up with self-funders in the race. At the close of the second quarter, he substantially trailed businessman Casey Askar and physician William Figlesthaler in cash on hand, and also had less than fellow state lawmaker Dane Eagle.
But groups like Club For Growth have funded a number of media buys promoting Donalds to voters.
The only outside poll in the race, commissioned by Florida Politics, showed Donalds second in the field, behind Askar, but ahead of Eagle. Askar’s lead, however, was within the poll’s margin of error. Eagle has since released an internal poll showing him pulling ahead of the field, with Donalds in second.
The winner of the Republican nomination heads to the general election a heavy favorite. Rooney in 2018 won reelection with more than 62% of the vote over Democrat David Holden.
The race has become increasingly heated as the Aug. 18 primary draws near. Opponents have questioned Donalds’ loyalty to President Donald Trump, but Donalds said he strongly supports the Republican leader.