|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Florida's 19th district
|Assumed office |
January 3, 2021
|Preceded by||Francis Rooney|
|Member of the Florida House of Representatives|
from the 80th district
November 8, 2016 – November 3, 2020
|Preceded by||Matt Hudson|
|Succeeded by||Lauren Melo|
Byron Lowell Donalds
October 28, 1978
Brooklyn, New York City, U.S.
|Political party||Republican (2010–present)|
|Democratic (until 2010)|
|Spouse||Erika Donalds (2003–present)|
|Education||Florida A&M University |
Florida State University (BS)
Byron Lowell Donalds (born October 28, 1978) is an American politician and businessman serving as the U.S. representative for Florida's 19th congressional district since 2021. His district serves most of the heart of Southwest Florida, including Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, and Naples. A member of the Republican Party, Donalds was the Florida state representative for the 80th district, which encompasses Hendry County and part of Collier County, from 2016 to 2020.
Donalds was born and raised in the Crown Heights neighborhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. One of three children, he was raised by his single mother. In 1996, Donalds graduated from Nazareth Regional High School in East Flatbush. He attended Florida A&M University and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in finance and marketing from Florida State University in 2002.
In 1997, Donalds was arrested for marijuana distribution; the charges were dropped as part of a pre-trial diversion program. In 2000, he pleaded guilty to a felony bribery charge as part of a scheme to defraud a bank, which was expunged after he entered the Florida House.
Before entering politics, Donalds worked in the finance, insurance, and banking industries. He has worked at TIB Bank, CMG Life Services, and Moran Wealth in Naples, Florida.
After Donalds became involved in the Tea Party movement, he was encouraged to run for office.
In 2012, Donalds was a candidate for U.S. House of Representatives in Florida's 19th congressional district. He finished fifth of six candidates. In 2014, Donalds was reported as a likely candidate for the U.S. House in Florida's 19th congressional district after the resignation of Trey Radel, but decided against running.
Donalds was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2016. During his Florida House tenure, he chaired the Insurance and Banking Subcommittee.
Donalds was the Republican nominee for Florida's 19th congressional district in the 2020 election, running to succeed retiring incumbent Francis Rooney. He won a crowded nine-way Republican primary by 770 votes over State Representative Dane Eagle, finishing just over the threshold to avoid a recount. Republicans have a 100,000-voter advantage over Democrats in registration, and Florida Gulf Coast University professor Peter Bergerson noted that the Republican primary is almost always the real contest for most races in the area. In August 2020, anonymous text messages were sent out to constituents in the 19th district claiming that Donalds was dropping out of the race. Donalds later clarified via tweet that he was not dropping out and called the messages "illegal". During his campaign, Donalds stated his support for economic freedom, clean water, nuclear power and decreased government involvement in health care. He opposed the Green New Deal.
In the November general election, Donalds defeated Democratic nominee Cindy Banyai. Donalds has said he will focus on policy related to water quality in Southwest Florida. Upon his swearing-in on January 3, 2021, Donalds became only the sixth person to represent this district since its creation in 1983 (it had been the 13th District from 1983 to 1993, the 14th from 1993 to 2013, and has been the 19th since 2013).
In late 2020, Donalds was identified as a participant in the "Freedom Force", a group of incoming House Republicans who "say they’re fighting against socialism in America".
In January 2021, Donalds voted to object to the certification of electors from Arizona and Pennsylvania in the 2020 presidential election.
Donalds was blocked from joining the Congressional Black Caucus.
In June 2021, Donalds was one of 49 House Republicans to vote to repeal the AUMF against Iraq.
|Independent||Anthony Joseph Cetrangelo (write-in)||7||0.0%|
|Independent||Dustin Alexander Lapolla||931||1.5%|
|Independent||Patrick Post (write-in)||3||0.01%|
Donalds and his wife, Erika, have three sons. They live in Naples, Florida. Donalds became a Christian at age 21.