The far-right of the House Republican Party nominated Rep. Byron Donalds from Florida for speaker as the floor fight over the gavel continued Wednesday.
Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, who nominated Donalds, got two standing ovations from both sides of the aisle, including from GOP leader Kevin McCarthy when he said, “For the first time in history there have been two Black Americans placed into the nomination for speaker of the House.”
“We do not seek to judge people by the color of their skin, but the content of their character,” he added, quoting civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream,” speech to a second standing ovation.
Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries from New York, whom Democrats have nominated for speaker across all six ballots, is expected to become the first Black leader of any major party when the dust settles on the House floor fight for speaker.
So far, Donalds has collected 20 votes each in the fourth, fifth and sixth ballots for speaker, blocking McCarthy’s path to victory. The House adjourned until 8 p.m. ET Wednesday.
Donalds voted for McCarthy on the first two ballots, but broke from the majority of his colleagues to vote for Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio on the third ballot with conservative hardliners.
“Right now, he doesn’t have a pathway to get there,” Donalds told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins after voting against McCarthy Tuesday. “If that reemerges, yeah, I can be there, that’s fine, but what’s necessary now is that Republicans come together and find a way to elect a speaker.”
Donalds is serving his second term, winning his first election in 2020 after GOP Rep. Francis Rooney vacated Florida’s 19th Congressional District seat, and his second in 2022 in a landslide victory.
During his first campaign, Donalds described himself in a political ad as a “Trump-supporting, gun-owning, liberty-loving, pro-life, politically incorrect Black man.”
In the same political ad, Donalds describes being arrested as a young man for drug possession and deciding to get his life together “through the grace of God.”
Donalds was raised in Brooklyn, New York, by a “single mom with three kids, two jobs and not much else,” he said. “Thanks to my mom and her influence, what could have been the end of my road was just the beginning.”
Both Roy and Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, who nominated Donalds on the sixth ballot, referred to Donalds overcoming “adversity” and “humble beginnings” to get to the House floor, mentioning his upbringing.
The Florida State University graduate worked in the banking, finance, and insurance industries before being elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2016, according to his office.
Donalds, 44, lives in Naples, Florida, with his wife and three sons.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated with the correct spelling of Byron Donalds’ first name.