With U.S. House majority leader Kevin McCarthy bowing out of the race for House Speaker for some reason, a range of Republicans are lining up, or being goaded, to step into the competition to replace outgoing House Speaker John Boehner, who announced his resignation a couple of weeks back.
Among these is Winter Garden Republican Daniel Webster, whom many have labeled a dark horse candidate.
He'd be the first U.S. House Speaker from Florida.
A former speaker of the Florida House, Webster is known for his socially conservative views but according to a Miami Herald profile, Democrats who worked with him in the legislature were surprised at how reasonable he could be. But Webster was first elected to Congress in 2010 during the Koch-ening, when he beat Congressman Alan Grayson (who then picked up another seat after redistricting in 2012).
His competition for House Speaker could include Congressman and former VP candidate Paul Ryan (if he decides to run, though it looks like he isn't into it), Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan and Georgia Congressman Lynn Westmoreland.
though a member of who won an endorsement from the very conservative House Freedom Caucus (which was part of the clamor to get Boehner out in the first placer) has support on both sides of the aisle here in Florida. (Note: We erroneously wrote that he was a member of the Freedom Caucus, but he is not. Our apologies.)
One prominent GOP supporter is Pinellas U.S. Rep. David Jolly, who is running for U.S. Senate. On Fox News' Your World With Neil Cavuto, according to a media statement his campaign sent out*, Jolly talked Webster up.
“I believe Dan is the right candidate to get us back to governing, to achieving conservative results through governing," Jolly said. "We’ve gone from the ‘do-nothing’ Congress to the ‘try-nothing’ Congress. We need to let the House work its will on behalf of the American people who entrust us to serve.”
But Jolly is more pro-functioning government than most. He's been trying, for example, to get Congress to do actual work, and has filed bills that would make its members work a 40-hour week — and hasn't exactly been getting love from the tea party for it.
On the other side of the aisle, Democratic political consultant Steve Schale called Webster "a good dude" whom lawmakers would be "smart to pick."
“He's an eminently fair guy and decent person," Schale said. "Frankly, as a partisan Democrat, I'm not so sure it'd be good for my party if he's speaker, because I think he's a sane voice, generally. He doesn't seem to engage in the histrionics too much.”
Schale said he worked as a legislative aide to a freshman Democratic lawmaker when Webster was Florida House Speaker, and remembers him as being open to new ideas no matter which party put them forth.
“He created a culture where everybody got along, and not every speaker since has had that kind of approach,” he said.
If Webster were to have the same approach if elected House Speaker, Schale said, it'd be a far cry from the extreme tone that seems to have taken over certain elements of Congress.
“The challenge Republicans have is just the Frankenstein those guys have built," he said. "If you listen to enough talk radio, you listen to enough Fox News, you begin to understand why there's sort of this space on their side for this element of people that just kind of want to shut everything down.”
Adding to the hurdles a long-shot status presents for Webster, he also faces a challenge in the wake of Florida's redistricting debacle; his district was one of those the state Supreme Court has demanded be redrawn, which could be an existential threat to his title, though it's also true that one doesn't have to be in the House to be House Speaker.
*We didn't catch the segment; the only time we watch Fox News is when all the other treadmills are taken.