Who is Rep. Byron Donalds, the GOP congressman nominated as an alternative to Kevin McCarthy?

Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., wearing a handsome yellow silk tie, turns to talk to reporters brandishing their cellphones at him, in the corridors of the Capitol.
Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., speaks to reporters as he walks to the House Chamber at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., received support from a group of hard-right Republicans for House speaker on Wednesday, a day after he joined them in opposing Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s bid for the speakership.

McCarthy has failed to secure enough votes for the speakership on six separate ballots, paralyzing the chamber at the start of a new congressional session.

The California Republican lost three votes on Tuesday, marking the first time in a century that the selection of a House speaker needed more than one ballot. After 19 Republican defections on the first two votes, Donalds switched his vote against McCarthy on the third ballot. On Wednesday, Reps. Chip Roy, R-Texas, Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., and Scott Perry, R-Pa., each nominated Donalds as an alternative to McCarthy.

Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., stands with Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo.
Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., left, stands with Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., at the back of the House Chamber Wednesday after Donalds was nominated as a candidate for speaker. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

McCarthy lost three more votes for House speaker on Wednesday, extending the process to at least a seventh ballot — and extending the embarrassment for Republicans. On each of those ballots, Donalds received 20 votes for speaker.

"I didn't come to D.C. being interested in becoming speaker of the House," Donalds told reporters Wednesday. "But I also understand part of my responsibility is to make sure our conference gets to a point where we are doing things in an effective and constructive way."

Who is Byron Donalds?

Donalds, 44, has served as a U.S. representative for Florida's 19th congressional district since 2021. The father of three from Naples, Fla., succeeded the retiring incumbent, GOP Rep. Francis Rooney, defeating Democrat Cindy Banyai by more than 20 points in the 2020 election. Donalds easily defeated Banyai again in 2022 to win reelection.

In January 2021, Donalds was among more than 100 Republicans who voted to object to the certification of electors from Arizona and Pennsylvania in the 2020 presidential election. (His Twitter bio reads: "Liberty-loving. Pro-Trump. Pro-2nd Amendment. Pro-life. Husband & father to 3.")

Before arriving in Washington, D.C., Donalds served two terms in the Florida state Legislature, as a member of the House.

Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Naples, at the microphone during a Florida state legislative session.
Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Naples, addresses a state legislative session in Tallahassee, Fla., on May 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)

Donalds was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1978, and raised in Crown Heights by a single mother. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in finance and marketing from Florida State University in 2002.

"Byron Donalds is a good man, raised by a single mom, who moved past adversity, became a Christian at the age of 21, and has devoted his life to advancing the cause for his family and for this country," Roy said in his nomination speech. "But there's an important reason for nominating Byron. And that is, this country needs a change. This country needs leadership that does not reflect this city, this town that is badly broken."

The American people, Roy added, "want a new face, new vision, new leadership, and I believe that face, vision and new leadership is Byron Donalds."