Hard-right Republicans nominated Rep.-elect Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) to be House speaker Wednesday, making it the first time in history that both major parties nominated a Black American to lead the lower chamber of Congress.
“Byron is a dear friend, a solid conservative but most importantly a family man who loves dearly his wife, Erica, and 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,” said Rep.-elect Chip Roy (R-Tex.).
Opponents of Rep.-elect Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) rallied to Donalds’s candidacy. Democrats have nominated Rep.-elect Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.).
Donalds, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-native, was elected to Congress in 2020 after Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.) retired from Congress. The 44-year-old moved to Florida to attend college at Florida A&M University and Florida State University before launching a career in banking.
Donalds sought a congressional seat for the first time in 2012 two years after becoming a Republican and getting involved in the tea party movement. He was unsuccessful but was eventually elected to the Florida legislature four years later.
He has made headlines defending the GOP — and former president Donald Trump — from accusations of racism. He has frequently criticized liberal lawmakers — and specifically the Congressional Black Caucus — for its stances on racial matters.