Florida Rep Byron Donalds is finding himself at the centre of speculation over a Vice Presidential bid after a half-hearted run for Speaker of the House ended in his defeat and the election of Rep Mike Johnson, a relative unknown, to the House’s top spot.
House Republicans finally ended a weeks-long stalemate and elected a new Speaker last week after the successful ouster of Kevin McCarthy by a contingent of right-wing conservatives in the chamber earlier this month. Mr Donalds, a second-term congressman who (like Mr Johnson) has never served in GOP leadership or as a committee chair, was among the names floated as a candidate for the job. He officially entered the race after several candidates had risen and fallen before the caucus, but declined to form an operation to whip votes in his favour and saw defeat in a closed-door conference meeting.
This weekend, the Republican lawmaker was a guest on Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo on the Fox News network where he responded to Bartiromo’s suggestion that he could receive an invitation to serve as Donald Trump’s running mate in 2024.
“[W]ith respect to being potentially on the ticket, that’s really up to the president. I have no control over that. The only thing I’ll say is I just want to do whatever I can to get our country on track. That’s what I’ve always been committed to. So no matter what the role is, it’s about getting our country back on track,” Mr Donalds said.
It was a comment that hinted at the same ambitions which had propelled Mr Donalds to consider himself a viable candidate for the Speaker’s gavel, and one that illuminated the current state of the GOP, which remains firmly aligned with the whims and impulses of Donald Trump and his faction of Republicans. That allegiance and emphasis on loyalty over other qualities was the main factor that contributed to the downfall of experienced Republicans in leadership like Kevin McCarthy, Tom Emmer and Steve Scalise as they sought and ultimately failed to bring their caucus’s right wing under control over the past month.
Mr Donalds is one of a contingent of Florida Republican lawmakers who spurned their state’s sitting GOP governor, Ron DeSantis, following his venture to Capitol Hill in search of allies for his presidential campaign earlier this year. He and others like Greg Steube, another congressman, affirmed their support for Donald Trump as the party’s 2024 nominee after Mr DeSantis’s visit to Washington.
Like another Republican congressman from Florida, Matt Gaetz, Mr Donalds has been floated as a potential gubernatorial candidate in 2026, when Mr DeSantis’s second term will come to an end.
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