Banyai, Donalds look forward to highlighting differences at District 19 Congressional debate

Amy Bennett Williams Fort Myers News-PressPublished 10:11 AM EDT Sep 16, 2020They may have vastly differing vi

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They may have vastly differing views but Cindy Banyai and Byron Donalds agree that Sept. 28 will be a very revealing night.

That’s when the two candidates for Florida’s Congressional District 19 will meet at a debate fueled by voter questions.

The election, which pits Republican Donalds against Democrat Banyai, is one of the state’s most closely watched. At stake is the seat occupied by Republican Francis Rooney, who kept his promise not to seek a third term in a district that sprawls from Cape Coral to the Ten Thousand Islands, including working class Lehigh Acres, affluent Naples and a chain of barrier islands in between.

In this deeply Republican region, many consider Donalds to already have won, but Banyai relishes her underdog status and has said she intends to prove the pundits wrong.

More: Byron Donalds wins Republican primary election for U.S. Congressional District 19, will face Democrat Cindy Banyai

Donalds, a member of the Florida House of Representatives since 2016, won the Republican nomination for the U.S. District 19 Congressional post In a tight primary Aug. 18, when Democrats decisively chose Banyai, an FGCU political science instructor.

At the debate, “I really hope people will see the differences (and) be able to fully recognize who is invested and ready to serve this community and who has other interests in mind,” she said. “I think people will be very excited to learn about my record of service with people in this district – not outside entities and corporate backers.”

Donalds is looking forward to the event as well – not just as a way to point out the contrasts between his policies and Banyai’s, but to illustrate “the real differences between both parties, he said. “My biggest goal is that all voters – not just Republican voters – get a chance to see that conservative principles are the actual way we can better all of our communities, better our society and continue to make America a more perfect union.”

WGCU Public Media and the USA TODAY Network-Florida (The News-Press and Naples Daily News) are teaming up for the debate, which will be broadcast live from the WGCU studios on the campus of Florida Gulf Coast University and shown simultaneously on, as well as those media outlets' Facebook pages. You can also listen online at or by tuning into 90.1 WGCU FM or 91.7 in Marco Island. Julie Glenn, the news director for WGCU, will be the moderator and reporters Amy Williams (News-Press/Naples Daily News) and John Davis (WGCU) will ask the questions.

WHAT: Election 2020 debate sponsored by WGCU Public Media and the USA TODAY Network-Florida (The News-Press and Naples Daily News)

WHO: Cindy Banyai (D) | Byron Donalds (R) | Candidates for U.S. District 19 Congressional seat

WHEN: Monday, Sept. 28 — 8-9 p.m.

MODERATOR: Julie Glenn, news director, WGCU Public Media

REPORTERS: Amy Williams, reporter, The News-Press/Naples Daily News; John Davis, assistant news director, WGCU Public Media

HOW TO WATCH: The debate will be a live TV broadcast from the WGCU studios on the campus of Florida Gulf Coast University. It will stream simultaneously on and as well as those media outlets’ Facebook pages. You can also listen on WGCU’s radio stations 90.1 or 91.7 FM.
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