The group of House Republicans who have refused to back Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) Speaker bid on Wednesday switched their votes to Rep. Byron Donalds (Fla.), a second-term congressman and one of two Black Republicans currently in the chamber.
The 20 GOP members voted for Donalds in the fourth round of Speaker voting, which saw no hopeful secure a majority.
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) won 212 votes from Democrats, and 201 GOP members backed McCarthy. Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.), who previously voted for McCarthy, voted “present” on the fourth ballot.
Donalds, a 44-year-old former businessman and state representative in Florida, is seen in the party as a rising star. A fiery conservative, he has been outspoken about his anti-abortion views and support for gun rights. And while he has been considered a supporter of former President Trump, the strength of his loyalty there has been called into question since the 2022 midterm elections.
In November, he challenged Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) for conference chair, the fourth-highest ranking position in leadership, but lost in a closed-door vote. The contest between Donalds and Stefanik illustrated an emerging dichotomy in the Republican Party: Stefanik, a strong supporter of Trump, endorsed the former president ahead of his 2024 presidential bid. Donalds has not.
The catapult of Donalds to Speaker consideration is a quick ascent from 2020, when he won his nine-way Republican primary by just over 700 votes.
In his nominating speech of Donalds for Speaker, Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) said he would “stand up” to the establishment in Washington.
“We do not seek to judge people by the color of their skin, but rather the content of their character,” Roy said. “Byron Donalds is a good man, raised by a single mom, moved past diversity, became a Christian man at the age of 21, and has devoted his life to advancing the cause for his family and this country. And he has done it admirably.”
Donalds supported McCarthy through two rounds of voting on Tuesday, but then switched his support to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) in the third round before Republicans adjourned the chamber for the day. Jordan has so far cast all his votes for McCarthy.