Greg Stuebe, Byron Donalds win big in Southwest Florida congressional races

No surprises in this red region.

The District 16 race between Vern Buchanan and Margaret Good got the most attention in Southwest Florida, but two other races saw a strong conservative return for a second term, while a new face is replacing a retiring veteran.

Rep. Greg Steube officially won a second term with 65% of the vote. The Sarasota Republican defeated Democrat Allen Ellison in Florida’s 17th Congressional District. The victory was expected in a heartland district peppered with signs promoting Steube and President Donald Trump.

This was a rematch of sorts, though it marked Ellison’s first appearance on a physical ballot. Ellison served as the replacement nominee in 2018 for April Freeman, who died shortly before the election. He secured the Democratic nomination without opposition this year.

But Steube once again crushed the Democrat at the ballot box. Running this year as an incumbent, the freshman Congressman in the past two years made a name for himself in impeachment hearings defending Trump. He’s also an ardent gun rights defender, an important issue in the largely rural district, and a staunch advocate for the agriculture industry.

Meanwhile, Rep. Byron Donalds is officially headed to Washington. The state lawmaker won an open Congressional race in Florida’s 19th Congressional District over Democrat Cindy Banyai with 61% of the vote.

Donalds was the heavy favorite in the deep red district. 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, by contrast, was hard-fought. He ended up the top vote-getter in a nine-person field, besting fellow state lawmaker Dane Eagle and businessmen Casey Askar and William Figlesthaler. Donalds ultimately secured the GOP nomination with just 22.6% of the vote to Eagle’s 21.85%. Banyai has her own primary story on which she was able to stump. The Florida Gulf Coast University professor beat out 2018 Democratic nominee David Holden despite being significantly outspent.

Bob Sparks

Bob Sparks is a former political consultant who previously served as spokesman for the Republican Party of Florida, Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Attorney General. He was a senior adviser to former Gov. Charlie Crist. Before entering politics, he spent nearly two decades in professional baseball administration. He can be reached at [email protected] and Twitter @BobSparksFL.


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