Rep. Byron Donalds is officially headed to Washington. The state lawmaker won an open seat in Florida’s 19th Congressional District over Democrat Cindy Banyai.
Donalds was the heavy favorite in the deep-red district. With all precincts reported, he led his opponent with 61.28% of the vote to Banyai’s 38.72%.
“Huge victory tonight!,” Donalds tweeted. “I’m truly humbled and honored. Big thank you to my family, #TeamDonalds and our hard-working volunteers that knocked doors, waved signs, and made calls to ensure Southwest Florida had a proven Conservative. I look forward to serving you in Washington!”
He follows U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney, another Naples Republican, who announced last year he would not seek a third term. In a district with 250,048 registered Republicans and 144,530 Democrats at book closing, Donalds went into the General Election with a significant advantage.
The Republican primary, in contrast, was hard-fought. He ended up the top vote-getter in a nine-person field, besting fellow state lawmaker Dane Eagle, businessmen Casey Askar and William Figlesthaler. Donalds ultimately secured the GOP nomination with just 23% of the vote to Eagle’s 22%.
Banyai had her own primary story on which to stump. The Florida Gulf Coast University professor beat out 2018 Democratic nominee David Holden despite being significantly outspent.
In the weeks since, she has worked closely with other Democrats running for lower office in the region to develop a coalition. But that likely matters more in the long-term for the region than it did Tuesday night.
Donalds may end up in Washington as the only Black member of the House Republican caucus, as Rep. William Hurd, a Texas Republican, decided not to run this year.
In the heavily Republican district, Donalds spend much of the general election cycle campaigning for Trump, but near the end of the race tested positive for COVID-19. He has since recovered and the day before the election donated plasma for medical treatment for the coronavirus.
Huge victory tonight! I'm truly humbled and honored. Big thank you to my family, #TeamDonalds and our hard working volunteers that knocked doors, waved signs, and made calls to ensure Southwest Florida had a proven Conservative. I look forward to serving you in Washington! pic.twitter.com/5h2XLuHKT2
— Byron Donalds (@ByronDonalds) November 4, 2020