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The Rise of Byron Donalds

Posted on Friday, November 24, 2023
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by Andrew Shirley
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18 Comments

AMAC Exclusive – By Andrew Shirley

Florida State Rep. Byron Donalds, at the podium, and Matthew Charles, one of the first inmates to benefit from the First Step Act of 2018, prepare to introduce President Donald J. Trump to the stage at the 2019 Second Step Presidential Justice Forum Friday, Oct. 25, 2019, at Benedict College in Columbia, S.C. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

While Louisiana Republican Mike Johnson ultimately emerged as the new Speaker of the House following Kevin McCarthy’s tumultuous exit last month, one other name being tossed around was Florida Representative Byron Donalds. At 45 years old and in just his second term in Congress, Donalds has clearly earned the respect of many of his colleagues and is rapidly becoming a national figure.

Donalds was born to a single mother in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in the Crown Heights neighborhood – then as now one of the more crime-ridden areas of the city. “I was jumped by a gang when I was in fifth grade,” Donalds told a local Florida news outlet back in 2020. “I mean, that’s just what would happen.”

Donalds excelled at academics from an early age, and his mother scrapped and saved to send him to a private school nearby. He went on to graduate from Florida State University in 2002 before taking a job as a credit analyst with TIB Bank near Naples, Florida.

While in college, Donalds met another student named Erika Lees who would later become his wife. During their on-again-off-again relationship during school, she invited him to church, which Donalds credits with changing his life and leading him to God.

As Donalds explained to the Ft. Myers News-Press in a 2020 interview, after his experience in church, he was waiting tables at a local diner when he served a group of women returning from a revival. “The Holy Spirit was dealing with me – really talking to me – and I looked out and they were getting into their van,” he said. Donalds then followed them into the parking lot and asked them to pray for him. “And I gave my life to Christ right there in the parking lot of Cracker Barrel in Tallahassee.”

In 2010, Donalds became involved with the Tea Party movement, where he got his first experience in politics. In March of that year he spoke to a small group of Tea Party activists from the back of a red pickup truck, where some Republican officials first recognized that he had political talent. Although the mainstream media constantly disparaged the Tea Party movement as “racist,” Donalds has said repeatedly that, as a black man, he felt nothing but welcomed at events and rallies.

Donalds was asked to speak at several other Tea Party events, slowly raising his profile in Southwest Florida Republican circles. In 2012, Donalds ran for Florida’s 19th Congressional District, but placed fifth out of six candidates. Four years later, he ran successfully for the Florida House of Representatives, where he became a champion of school choice and financial protections for the elderly.

Donalds left the Florida House to run again for Congress in 2020. This time he would be successful, beating out several other well-financed primary candidates and easily cruising to victory in his deep-red district by a margin of 61 percent to 39 percent. Last year he won re-election by an even larger margin, securing 68 percent of the vote.

While in Congress, Donalds has made a name for himself as a conservative firebrand and strong ally of former President Donald Trump. Despite being from Florida, home to GOP presidential hopeful Governor Ron DeSantis, Donalds became one of the first Republicans to endorse Trump’s 2024 bid. Some pundits have even speculated that Donalds could be a dark horse vice presidential pick for Trump – something Donalds himself has hinted he could be open to.

In addition to his support for Trump, Donalds has become a household name across America for his willingness to do battle with the liberal media. He is one of the few Republicans willing to regularly appear on networks like MSNBC and CNN and spar with the hosts over public policy. Following CNN’s townhall with Trump earlier this year, for instance, Donalds appeared to defend Trump’s record as president and point out the many failures of the Biden administration.

Unsurprisingly, Donalds has become one of the top targets of the mainstream media and Democrat Party.

Earlier this year, MSNBC host Joy Reid accused Donalds of being a Republican “diversity statement,” further suggesting that his elevation within the party is an “affirmative action” choice by Republicans. Missouri Congresswoman Cori Bush, meanwhile, has called Donalds a “prop” who “supports a policy agenda intent on upholding and perpetuating white supremacy.”

However, Donalds’s overwhelming popularity with his voters back home in Florida and the evident respect he commands among his House colleagues suggests something far different: a rising star. Americans will undoubtedly continue to hear his name more and more in the years ahead.

Andrew Shirley is a veteran speechwriter and AMAC Newsline columnist. His commentary can be found on X at @AA_Shirley.

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John Cochrane
John Cochrane
4 months ago

Byron seems to be a good conservative fighter for truth, justice, and the American way! God’s speed Byron!

Rik
Rik
4 months ago

I like him but I wish he would consider running as Trump’s VP which would then pave the way for a Presidential run next

A Voter
A Voter
4 months ago

Such love from the party of compassion and inclusion. Seems to me the Democrat party will only support a black man who tows the line. “Yessir Massa, I’s be a good N.” Sounds like you are afraid these guys will thwart you communist agenda. Go ahead tell the truth and shame the devil.

Rik
Rik
4 months ago

How many times do I have to repeat myself, NOBODY HERE DENIES THAT LYING JACKASS JOE BIDEN CHEATED AND STOLE THE LAST PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION!

Ty
Ty
4 months ago

People who talk about race the most are the real racists. Skin color is the makeup of pigmentation, nothing more.What makes a person succeed is their own determination and internal drive. People aren’t born bad or good. It’s the way they perceive the world around them, which builds their path. So, grow up, and stop using race as a method to prosper from the race feed bag, or as an excuse for not prospering.The talking heads in the media earn their living pumping fake racism and untruths, and so do people lurking in social media, who are prospering from that same race feed bag.Every day it is getting easier to identify these spoilers, like the people and organizations noted in this article, and the misrepentations these people continue to spew.So, whats keeps racism alive? It’s our own government, which sponsors the SWAMP that manages the race feed bag these organizations dip into. There will be accountability, and we will learn the truth, and that time maynot be that far into the future.No matter what these talking heads say or how much money they are able to take from American taxpayers, they can’t stop the individual success of good, hard-working people. People who beleive in America, our Constitution and our way of life.Will Roger’s said once, “I’ve never met a man I didn’t like.” Of course he had his own internal definition of a man, which didn’t have any concern with pigmentation, just the indivual. Where they right minded, doing the right things to grow and build, and that they proported a positive self image that inspired others. To Will, it didn’t matter that you parked cars, drove a buss or a vice president of a bank. If you fit his simple values you were a man.Today, no matter what is being said, America is not a racist nation, unless or course, your paid to say so!

Mike
Mike
4 months ago

Isn’t it funny that the party formed to eliminate slavery recognized his political talent. The Democrats who defended and promoted slavery till the present have issues with him? Imagine that.

CoachT23
CoachT23
4 months ago

Good article. Great American RepubliCAN Man! Go Donalds!!!

Rik
Rik
4 months ago

Gosh This Jerk NEVER LEARNS! . . . He just HATES TRUMP AND CAPITALISM SO MUCH he keeps spewing his factless accusations thinking that if he repeats it enough that Conservatives will agree with him.

STUPID IS, STUPID DOES!

spitfire?1940
spitfire?1940
4 months ago

If Joyless Ried and the moronic Cory Bush are filled with envy and malice towards Mr Donald’s that is a more than fair indication that he is a danger to their dreams of woke Americs.Thesetalentless fools have spent their lives exploiting the color of their skins and if intellect was dynamite neither would have enough to blow their wigs off.

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