Byron Donalds backs Gus Bilirakis for re-election to CD 12
Gus Bilirakis leads the fight against Parkingson's disease.

It’s not exactly a surprise, but it’s a high-profile nod that likely comes with some campaign cash.

U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds, a Southwest Florida Republican who has gained national significance in GOP politics in recent months, is throwing his star power behind colleague Gus Bilirakis, who represents Florida’s 12th Congressional District.

“I am proud to serve in the Florida delegation with Congressman Gus Bilirakis. He has fought alongside me as we’ve worked for a more secure, more prosperous and more just nation,” Donalds said. “Gus rolls his sleeves up and gets to work without fanfare. Some people talk the talk, but Gus walks the walk. He’s the exact kind of patriot we need to make America great again.”

Donalds was briefly in contention for House Speaker following the historic ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, but he dropped out in late October before Mike Johnson was eventually voted into the position.

While Donalds only won his House seat in 2020, he has quickly gained prominence. His profile rose in January, when U.S. Rep. Chip Roy promoted Donalds as an alternative to McCarthy for Speaker.

As a result, Donalds played a key role in negotiating a rules package that ultimately garnered enough votes for McCarthy to become Speaker, the same rules that allowed a small faction of the GOP caucus to oust McCarthy later.

“Congressman Byron Donalds is a proven conservative fighter, and I am proud to earn his support in our campaign,” Bilirakis said. “Our nation depends on leaders like Rep. Donalds who are unafraid to stand up to the liberal establishment on issues like border security, inflation and energy independence. I look forward to continue working with my friend and colleague to enact the America First agenda.”

Donalds’ endorsement will further boost Bilirakis among hard-line conservatives. Bilirakis already landed support from former President Donald Trump and from U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio.

Yet the longtime lawmaker maintains positive working relationships across the aisle, too.

Since winning his seat in Washington in 2006, succeeding father and former U.S. Rep. Mike Bilirakis, Gus Bilirakis has focused on bread-and-butter issues that impact his constituents’ lives.

In particular, Bilirakis has fought alongside Democrats and Republicans in the region on behalf of area veterans. He celebrated some of that progress earlier this year at the ribbon-cutting for the new James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital bed tower in Tampa. He shared the stage with a Democrat in Tampa Bay’s congressional delegation.

The Center for Effective Lawmaking last year rated Bilirakis the most effective Republican member of the House among the Florida delegation. The Lugar Center, which tracks how often lawmakers work together across the aisle, scored Bilirakis as the most bipartisan member of Florida’s congressional delegation in the last Congress. He was the 27th highest scoring member nationwide in the 435-member chamber.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


  • PeterH

    February 14, 2024 at 2:04 pm

    Endorsements are more important that our southern border quagmire Republicans ignore!

  • JD

    February 14, 2024 at 2:14 pm

    Donalds? You mean the drug dealer and bank fraudster? Why would anyone want that endorsement?

    How come nobody talks about that?

    Or that his wife owns a school that probably benefits from vouchers and is tied to Moms for Liberty that pushes vouchers?

Comments are closed.


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