Incumbent Republican Byron Donalds is running for reelection in Congressional District 19. He’s being challenged by newcomer Jim Huff of Port Charlotte. The winner will face Democrat Cindy Banyai and a Write-In option in November.
Forty-four percent of Collier County’s voting age population live in District 19. Find your district here.
Only registered Republicans who live in District 19 may vote in this closed primary. If you live in District 19 but are registered as Democrat, No Party Affiliation, or another party, this race will not be on your August ballot.
Byron Donalds, 43, was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. One of three children, he was raised by his single mother.
In 1997, he was arrested for marijuana distribution; the charges were dropped as part of a pre-trial diversion program. In 2000, he was accused of bribery; the charge was later expunged and is no longer available as a public record. (The News-Press, 8/10/20)
Donalds attended Florida A&M University, but ultimately earned a B.S. in finance and marketing from Florida State University in 2002.
He moved to Collier County in 2003 and worked in the finance, insurance, and banking industries.
In addition, from 2004 to 2016, he served as a youth leader in his church where he mentored middle school and high school students.
Elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2016, Donalds served two terms before being elected to Congress in 2020.
In his spare time, he enjoys volunteering as a coach in youth football and basketball leagues. He and his wife Erika live in Naples and have three children.
One of Donald’s first votes in Congress was to object to the certification of electors from Arizona and Pennsylvania in the 2020 presidential election. He released a statement through social media that he “cannot in good faith vote to support the certification of the Electoral College results on Jan. 6.” (The News-Press, 1/1/21; NYTimes, 1/7/21)
While denouncing the violence of January 6th, he says the January 6th Committee’s work is a political witch-hunt. (FOX News, 6/9/22)
Donalds is “a rising GOP star” who “embodies the values of the modern GOP-er: fiscally conservative, anti-abortion and staunch defender of the right to carry a gun. He also serves as a lieutenant in today’s culture wars, railing against critical race theory, rebutting the findings of the Jan. 6 committee and standing behind the biggest figure in the Republican Party: Donald Trump.” (Politico: The Recast, 7/15/22)
Donalds outlines his positions on eight issues on his website. Among them are:
- Federal Spending — Supports a Balanced Budget Amendment to require both the House of Representatives and Senate to pass a balanced budget annually.
- Healthcare — Supports repealing the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Does not believe individuals should be required to purchase health insurance.
- Taxes — Is a co-sponsor of the Fair Tax Act, which would impose a national sales tax in lieu of the current income taxes, payroll taxes, and estate and gift taxes.
- Immigration — Supports a southern border wall and reform of the entry/exit visa system to eliminate visa overstays.
- 2nd Amendment — Is endorsed by the NRA. “Shall not be infringed, means Shall not be infringed!”
- Pro-Life — Will “fight to protect the life of every unborn child without exception.”
- Why Byron Donalds — Donalds’ website (2:18)
- Congressional Website
- Campaign Website
- Facebook — Byron Donalds
- Twitter — @ByronDonalds
- YouTube — Congressman Byron Donalds
- Instagram — byrondonalds
- Vote Smart Political Courage Test 2012
Donalds has been endorsed by former Pres. Trump, the NRA, Americans for Prosperity, Tea Party Express, Republican Liberty Caucus, House Freedom Fund, Florida Family Action, Republican Hispanic Assembly Florida, Sen. Rand Paul, FreedomWorks, The Club for Growth, Gun Owners of America, and Empower America. (Website)
Jim Huff, 38, was born and raised in rural New Jersey. He started working as a farmhand at age 15, and after graduating from high school, elected to go to college in Florida. From 2002-2004, he attended the University of Florida but finding big university life wasn’t for him, finished his Associate’s Degree in Engineering at Santa Fe Community College.
He then re-entered the workforce full-time with the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) – Baltimore District and became a Senior Drill Rig Operator.
In 2015, Huff finished his degree at Florida Gulf Coast University, earning a B.S. in Civil Engineering with honors. He then returned to the USACE as a civil engineer and specialized in geotechnical engineering with the Jacksonville District. There, he assisted in projects that directly improve water quality discharges from Lake Okeechobee and in restoration projects in Picayune Strand State Forest in Naples. In 2022, he earned his Professional Engineer license, returned to Southwest Florida, and resigned from his federal position with the USACE to run for Congress.
Asked his position on the events of January 6, 2021, Huff stated on Facebook:
“To this day, I do not believe Donald Trump broke a law because it is likely he would have been arrested or indicted already and tried in a court of law for the law(s) he broke. HOWEVER, I KNOW LAWS WERE BROKEN THAT DAY AND THOSE COMMITTING THE CRIMES MUST BE HELD RESPONSIBLE. I do believe Trump’s actions contributed to the mistaken expectations of those who did storm the capitol, that Trump would continue being President after their actions. I support the prosecution of every individual found guilty of breaking the law that day, not to the fullest extent but to a reasonable extent given each’s specific circumstances. You know what that’s called? Justice.”
He also said, in the same Facebook post, “I do not support Trump’s campaign for 2024…. I hope our leaders in the future choose to promote democracy over violence and respect the people following them enough to protect them and know when to ask for de-escalation.“
Regarding the January 6th Committee hearings, he wrote, “ I won’t argue whether they are bipartisan or not but I will say it appears to be a Trump-bashing party to me. I believe we all deserve the truth of details as to what happened factually, without bias to one point of view or the other.”
Huff says his goals as a congressman are:
- Address the Three I’s at the national level: Infrastructure – Immigration – Inflation
- Continue restoration of our waters and local environment through new and ongoing cost-share projects between the State of Florida and the Federal Government.
- Accountability of our politicians to address America’s needs first. Term Limits.
- Bring both parties to the table through debate and discussion, putting personal agendas aside, to ensure a job well done for the people.
He further outlines his positions on eight issues on his website. In addition to the above goals, they include:
- Fiscal Responsibility (Inflation) — Supports a balanced budget.
- Second Amendment — “I believe the Second Amendment was instituted to protect our citizens from foreign invasion, tyrannical government (meaning our own), as well as personal protection against anyone who wishes harm to a person or their family. I put my carry weapon on each day as if it was my seatbelt in my car.”
Huff does not state a position on abortion on his website, but in a Jul. 15 Facebook post, he wrote, “I’d vote No for HR8296 [prohibits governmental restrictions on the provision of, and access to, abortion services] and Yes for HR8297 [prohibits anyone acting under state law from interfering with a person’s ability to access out-of-state abortion services]. This is not my personal belief for HR8296 but the position isn’t about me, it’s about the people of SWFL.”
Regarding marriage equality, he wrote on Facebook, “I support everyone having equal rights…. [W]hen it comes to the seriousness of the law and ensuring [that] married alternative couples receive the same benefits/pension options as the married heterosexual couples, I again support equal rights.”
- Website — jimhuff4congress.com
- Facebook — Jim Huff for Congress
- Twitter — @JimHuff_
- Instagram — @JimHuff_
- Ballotpedia Candidate Survey 2022
- Jim Huff, Congress and the courage to be civil, The Paradise Progressive, 7/8/22
- Republican Jim Huff is ready to make a run at Congress, NBC2 video clip (2:10), 7/12/22
In the News
- Engineer wages primary challenge against Byron Donalds, Florida Politics, 6/17/22
Neither Huff’s website nor his social media mention any endorsements or supporters.
CD19 Race in the News
- “With a popular incumbent firmly in the saddle, the Aug. 23 primary race for Florida’s 19th congressional district may be more critique than contest, yet it’s key to understanding emerging undercurrents. “(The News-Press, 7/22/22)
Here are the monetary contributions and expenditures reported by each candidate according to their most recent Federal Election Commission filings:
Donalds received 7,117 itemized individual contributions totaling $1.7 million, of which 739 were for $1,000 or more, and 2,442 were from Florida. Another $2.1 million of individual contributions were unitemized. He also received 189 contributions totaling $0.4 million from political committees.
Huff received eight individual contributions including $1,000 from Nancy Huff and $100 from Collier School Board candidate Kelly Lichter. He also personally loaned his campaign $13,000. The majority of his disbursements ($10,440) was for the qualifying fee paid to the state.
Only you can decide which candidate you think would better represent you in Congress. If you have questions about either of the candidates, don’t hesitate to contact them directly through their website.
If you have questions or need additional information about the election itself, visit the Collier County Supervisor of Elections website or call 239-252-8683.