When asked for an example of how the Republican National Committee and President Trump expanded the party during the last four years, I like to cite Florida's newest Republican member of Congress, Byron Donalds.
In a story that could only happen in America, this Black American man born in Crown Heights, Brooklyn to a single mother of three went on to become a conservative Republican who ran for a congressional seat in the Sunshine State’s 19th District and won.
The actions of President Trump’s agenda to empower Black Americans, create more economic opportunities, address health challenges, reduce prescription drug prices, support school choice, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and charter schools, as well as enacting historic criminal justice reforms and Opportunity Zones, resonated with Donalds, his constituents, and millions of other Americans across the nation.
When Rep. Donalds got to Washington, he had choices to make on staffing and was intentional in his commitment to find the best talent that represented America. To that end, Donalds hired a majority minority staff of men and women. The new congressman got his political start working for the late Herman Cain on his 2012 presidential campaign. In many ways, this is how you pay it forward by giving others an opportunity to serve in different positions and offices, just as he was given.
When I first read about his diverse staff, I was filled with pride to see the names of young Americans coming from different experiences and backgrounds with one focus – service. Donalds said, “Since being elected the next congressman of Florida’s 19th Congressional District, I have worked tirelessly to establish a staff dedicated to my steadfast commitment to serving my constituents with honor and distinction. … I am confident this diverse and talented group of professionals will follow in my promise to ensure our government remains of, by, and for the people.”
Personally, I was proud to see three Black Republican young men holding positions in his office as communications director, legislative correspondent and staff assistant. It reminded me of my start in politics, although these three have already had impressive careers.
I remember attending my first political fundraiser for then-Rep. J.C. Watts Jr., who offered me an internship in Washington, if I was able to get there. I was a young man involved in the Republican Party of Arizona serving in leadership for the Arizona Teenage Republicans. The AZ GOP took a chance on me: While in college I interned at the RNC in the political division and then at the White House. I did not come from great wealth or have family political connections in either party, but I was still given a chance and I am forever grateful.
My story, Rep. Donalds’ story, and so many others reflect the intentions of the Republican Party to reach out to voters of all backgrounds and communities. This is something we have not always succeeded at but we have made a renewed focus and commitment to continue to expand the Party of Opportunity, one that works for all Americans.
In 2020, the RNC and the Trump campaign were both intentional in their efforts to engage with diverse audiences, especially minorities, and they succeeded with historic gains from minority voters across the board, helping spur a surge of GOP women and racial minorities winning seats in Congress and at the state and local level. We now have a new generation of leaders who are providing fresh conservative input on how we message, engage and highlight our policies to the American people – especially to those who may be unaware of how specific policies impact their daily lives.
The RNC hired minorities to serve as regional engagement coordinators in leading our efforts in dozens of cities across the nation. They worked with the RNC and campaign staff to implement training, GOTV, and engagement events from our Black, Latino, and Asian community centers. Some of these coordinators never imagined working in politics at this level or thought it to be within reach, but they were inspired by the message of the Republican Party and President Trump and wanted to get involved.
The RNC invested in them, gave them a chance, and they led. These courageous new leaders are the future of the GOP. Everyone, no matter their background, has to be given that first chance to succeed – and this will continue.
The Republican Party has always been the party of freedom and opportunity. This party continues to live up to our founding and its history of empowerment of minorities and women. I’ve witnessed the growth and expansion each year. Mainstream media might not give us the credit, tell the story or celebrate our diversity – and that’s all right because we will quietly continue to grow, empower, and win.
Rep. Donalds is not the first Republican congressman to have a diverse team and he won’t be the last, but I am glad to give him recognition. More people are seeing the real diversity of the GOP at the RNC, state GOP offices, and with countless elected officials all over the nation.
I have always been proud of my party and am excited about our future. With so many more new faces, ideas, and energy focused on active involvement in our political process, we will continue to push for advancing the conservative cause of freedom and opportunities in America.