Republican Nominee, Florida House District 39
Commissioner, Seat 3, Apopka City Council since 2015
Founder and senior pastor, Victory Church World Outreach Center
World of Faith Leadership and Bible Institute, Certificate, Theological and Ministerial Studies, 1985
Peacemakers Institute, A.A., Theology/Theological Studies, 2008
Life Christian University, Master's, Theology/Theological Studies, 2012
Conservative Republican Doug Bankson is running for the open seat in House District 39. He faces Democrat Tiffany Hughes, who was unopposed in the primary, on Nov. 8.
Bankson, who came to Florida from Altadena, Calif., by way of Sioux City, Iowa, has lived in Apopka for more than 30 years. A “husband, father and grandfather,” Bankson has held Seat 3 on Apopka’s City Council since 2015. Bankson also served a term as the city’s vice mayor and as chair of the Apopka Chamber of Commerce, president of the Apopka Ministerial Alliance and police chaplain with the Apopka Police Department.
In 1995, he established the evangelical Victory Church World Outreach Center, where he is senior pastor. The church holds that both homosexuality and divorce are sins. Florida Politics first reported that Bankson’s 2011 self-published marriage and sex guide Love Your Woman instructed that women must submit to their husbands because of the “positional authority" that God bestows.
Bankson echoes Trump’s “America First” philosophy and extends it to “Florida First.” His platform is focused on addressing the housing and property insurance crises, lowering taxes, securing the border, protecting the environment, supporting first responders, restricting abortion and advocating for the parental rights in education. A proponent of school choice, Bankson is also the founder of Apopka Christian Academy, operated by the church, where annual tuition is $7,400 plus a $150 enrollment fee.
“I'm strong on the Constitution,” he told VoxPopuli in a July interview. “The First and Second Amendments are key. If we lose those, we're not American anymore. Our Ninth and Tenth Amendments to establish the strength of the state to have autonomy. I think it's so important getting back to the foundation and what was purposed from the founders. I’m strong on fiscal responsibility. I've got a record of holding my ground here locally in Apopka. I believe government is supposed to be small, not big.”
His favorite metaphor for government is the umpire in the baseball game.
“I've never heard anyone say, Let's go watch the umpire. They always say, Let's go watch the game. Government has its place. But it's not there to change the scoreboard. It's not there to balance those things out. It’s there to make sure the game is played fairly and that everyone has the opportunity to play the game.”
Meanwhile, nearly two years after the 2020 election, 70 percent of Republicans still falsely believe that election was stolen. A recent New York Times analysis found that more than 370 Republican candidates running for office across the country have questioned or denied the results of the 2020 election.
Bankson is an election “questioner.” He told VoxPopuli recently, “I’ve seen enough to make me question things.* It's curious to me that Joe Biden would've gotten more votes than Obama who was extremely popular. That’s just a curiosity to me. I've seen validity and concerns, but beyond that, if I don't have all the facts, I think it's foolish to get conclusions.”
When we asked him if Joe Biden is the legitimately elected president, Bankson replied, “It's the same question that was asked about Bush,” without directly answering the question.
Bankson also did not want to comment on the deadly January 6th insurrection carried out by armed Trump supporters that nearly prevented the peaceful transfer of power. “Honestly, I am not focused on that. I'm focused on this campaign. So I don’t … I think it's unwise to answer a question when you don't know all the facts and don't know all the details. So I don't, I really don't know how to answer that because I haven't been following it.”
Here’s where he stands on other issues.
He told VoxPopuli that the big problem with insurance is on the litigation side. He wants to get the roofers, the lawyers and the insurers together to address excessive litigation. “This isn’t anti-attorney,” he said. “We need attorneys to fight for us, but we need to make sure in this situation — I call it the Minneapolis Smash-n-Grab — the window’s open; let’s just get it while we can. We can’t operate that way, or it will collapse us.”
“Pay teachers competitively,” he said during a candidates forum with the Orlando Sentinel. “We need to make sure we’re competitive in our teaching rates. We need to make sure we’re paying them a wage they can live upon.”
Bankson supports the Stop WOKE Act, which restricts education about the U.S. legacy of racism in schools and the workplace. Part of the law was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge (an appeal has been filed). Bankson said in a campaign video that tax dollars “follow the child” and “we need to be able to decide where those dollars go. Each parent should have that opportunity. We need to make sure we keep education out from indoctrination and more to that point of education. That’s the original purpose.”
SECOND AMENDMENT/GUN SAFETY
In a campaign video, Bankson said guns were for hunting, protection and “also to rein in government from becoming out of control and seizing the power.”
He is a proponent of “constitutional carry,” which would allow people to openly carry firearms without a permit. “Where gun laws are strictest, we have the highest levels of gun violence, and where people are allowed to protect themselves, they have the lowest,” he told the Orlando Sentinel.
[Editor’s Note: Data doesn’t bear that out. A comprehensive study by Everytown for Gun Safety, published in January, which scored every state on the strength of its gun laws and compared it with its rate of gun violence, found that states with strong gun laws saw far fewer people dying by gun violence.]
Bankson is strong supporter of “medical freedom,” stating in a campaign video that the mask and vaccine mandates were “one of the greatest overreaches of the federal government that’s ever been” and that “it’s up to the people to make those choices. … We need to protect that right.”
Bankson does not extend those protections to women making reproductive health decisions.
Bankson is avowedly pro-life and does not support abortion in incest or rape cases. He told VoxPopuli in that July interview that rape is a “heinous crime,” but that “we can’t execute the other victim.”
Florida Politics reported that during a Republican Primary forum at the Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida, Bankson indicated he would support a total abortion ban. “We need to make sure that we have stricter laws against those who are performing these crimes and make sure we have more support for those upon whom they’ve been perpetrated,” he said.
Yet, when VoxPopuli interviewed Bankson last Friday, he said something very different. We asked point blank, “Would you vote against a total abortion ban to preserve exceptions for the life of the mother, correct?” Bankson said, “Yes,” citing the Hippocratic Oath, "First, Do no harm."
Even with a total abortion ban, still more restrictions could come into play. The Thomas More Society and the National Association of Christian Lawmakers are drafting model legislation for Republican lawmakers to adopt that would restrict travel to states where abortion is legal.
Bankson said he was conflicted about whether he would vote for a law preventing a woman from traveling to another state for an abortion if it became illegal in Florida.
“I haven't really thought through to what the moral core is of that? What right do I have to tell someone else? I think we would all agree that no matter what state you are in, you shouldn't murder someone. Does Florida have the power to say you can't travel? Well, you shouldn't murder someone anywhere. So again, I'm trying to get to the moral core of every issue before I make a stand.”
BORDER SECURITY/LAW ENFORCEMENT
Bankson said in a campaign Facebook video, “I am against illegal immigration, against amnesty. I was taught you wait your turn in line.”
VoxPopuli asked him if he agreed with Gov. Ron DeSantis’s flying the Venezuelan asylum-seekers to Martha’s Vineyard.
“To play gotcha with people, no. But to say, Listen, this is real, and if you are not going to address the problem … But the president did the very same thing. He's flown them all over the nation in the dark of night and didn't have any ramifications. Our governor simply just said, Then we are going to send them to you. You’ve said you want them. You welcome them. Then immediately they shipped them out. So I think there's some hypocrisy going on and that's what bothers me.”
[Editor's Note:A Texas sheriff recently said the circumstances in which the asylum-seekers were taken to Martha’s Vineyard made them crime victims. As such, they may be entitled to a special U visa to stay in the U.S. that they otherwise would not have been entitled to.]
In terms of law enforcement, Bankson is a chaplain with the Apopka Police Department, who says often says that he supports law enforcement and first responders. But after the FBI (under Trump-appointed director Christopher Wray) removed boxes of highly classified documents from Mar-a-Lago, Bankson posted on Facebook that the court-sanctioned search “should shake everyone,” and it was “ample proof that the Left has run amuck [sic], and it is time to reign [sic] in those who turn our own legal system against its citizens.”
*The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued a statement on Nov. 12, 2020, that the 2020 election was “the most secure in American history.” The Department of Homeland Security’s attested to the election’s security. The Jan. 6 Committee presented video testimony from former U.S. Attorney General Wiliam Barr who testified that he told former president Trump that his election fraud claims were “bullshit.”