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Trump Elevates a Conservative ‘Warrior’ on Education

In early 2021, Representative Byron Donalds, Republican of Florida, and his wife, Erika, took the stage at an event hosted by the Truth & Liberty Coalition, a group that pushes to inject Christianity into public schools and other institutions and whose leader has described homosexuality as Satan’s work.

The couple was warmly welcomed as allies in the cause. Ms. Donalds was singled out for opening a charter school in Florida. As a state legislator, Mr. Donalds had created a school voucher program that, in the words of one speaker, let children “get a biblical worldview education.”

Mr. Donalds addressed the group with characteristic humility. He is just a “poor kid from Brooklyn,” he said, who made good by doggedly pursuing his interests.

He urged the group to do the same: “Be bold.”

Mr. Donalds’s career is a testament to his advice. His interests — in overhauling public education, evangelical Christianity and electing Donald J. Trump — have propelled a rapid political ascent. A backbencher congressman in only his second term, Mr. Donalds, 45, has fast become a prominent surrogate for Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign and a conservative media regular, serving up earnest and on-message defenses of the former president.

Mr. Trump has taken notice. He has privately introduced Mr. Donalds as “the next governor of Florida,” and has spoken with advisers about the congressman as a potential running mate.

The national attention is less remarkable to those in Florida, where the Donaldses have spent years building a name — and a business — for themselves in the state’s white-hot battles over schools.

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