As the House moves into the third day of voting for a new speaker, a man not very well known in Washington’s political circles may well see himself again nominated for the position and peeling off enough votes to keep the presumptive speaker from taking the gavel.
Byron Donalds, R-Florida, was nominated for speaker Wednesday, the first time in American history that both Democrats and Republicans offered the names of Black legislators to lead the House of Representatives.
Democrats have nominated Rep. Hakeem Jefferies for the position.
Donalds, 44, was nominated on the chamber’s fourth vote for speaker after Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-California, failed on successive votes to get enough Republican lawmakers to support him and provide the 218 votes needed to make him the next speaker of the House.
Republican Chip Roy of Texas nominated Donalds Wednesday saying, “Byron is a dear friend, a solid conservative but most importantly a family man who loves dearly his wife, Erika, his three children; has a proven track record as a businessman, public service in the Florida legislature and now as a member of the United States Congress.”
Who is Donalds? Here is what we know about the Florida Republican.
- He was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of a single mother.
- When he was 18, Donalds was arrested for distributing marijuana. When he was 21, he was arrested and charged with bribery — a charge that was later expunged, The Washington Post reported. “These were the actions of a young kid,” he said in 2014. “I can’t undo that.” “I can’t undo my mistakes,” Donalds added. “The only thing I can do is show and become the man that I am today for my family and the community that I love.”
- He graduated from Florida State University with a bachelor’s degree in finance and marketing.
- He began his career in southwest Florida, where he worked in the banking, finance and insurance industries.
- Donalds ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. House in 2012.
- He was appointed by then-Gov. Rick Scott to the Florida SouthWestern State College Board of Trustees.
- He helped start and run the Mason Classical Academy, a charter school in Collier County, Florida.
- Donalds was elected to the Florida House in 2016 and served two terms in Tallahassee. He sponsored a criminal justice reform measure that raised from $300 to $750 the threshold at which theft becomes a felony.
- Donalds ran for Congress in 2020 to represent Florida’s 19th Congressional District.
- While running for office he described himself as a “Trump-supporting, liberty-loving, pro-life, pro-Second Amendment Black man.”
- He won his GOP primary by just over 770 votes.
- Donalds has sponsored 24 bills in the US House.
- He is married to Erika Donalds, who is CEO of The Optima Foundation, Inc., a non-profit corporation that supports school choice. The two have three children.
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