Daniel Webster (Florida politician)
Daniel Alan Webster (born April 27, 1949) is an American politician who has been a member of the United States House of Representatives since 2011. Webster, a Republican from Florida, represents Florida's 11th district since 2017 after having previously represented Florida's 8th congressional district and 10th district. Prior to his service in Congress, Webster served 28 years in the Florida state legislature.
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 11th district
January 3, 2011
|Preceded by||Alan Grayson|
|Member of the Florida Senate
from the 9th district
November 3, 1998 – November 4, 2008
|Preceded by||John Ostalkiewicz|
|Succeeded by||Andy Gardiner|
|Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives|
November 19, 1996 – November 17, 1998
|Preceded by||Peter Wallace|
|Succeeded by||John Thrasher|
|Member of the Florida House of Representatives
from the 41st district
November 4, 1980 – November 3, 1998
|Preceded by||John Mica|
|Succeeded by||Randy Johnson|
|Born||Daniel Alan Webster
April 27, 1949
Charleston, West Virginia, U.S.
|Alma mater||Georgia Institute of Technology|
After receiving his engineering degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology, he worked in the family air conditioning and heating business that he now owns and operates. He has been a resident of Florida since the age of seven and resides in Winter Garden, Florida.
First elected in 1980, Webster served 28 years in the state legislature in Tallahassee, becoming the longest serving legislator in Florida history. During that time, he rose to become Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives and Florida Senate majority leader, and left the legislature only after reaching the legal term limits in 2008. He ran unopposed in all of his elections for the state legislature except for the first three; 1980, 1982, and 1984.
Early life, education, and business careerEdit
Webster was born in Charleston, West Virginia, the son of Mildred Rada (Schoolcraft), a nurse, and Dennis Webster. He was raised in Orlando, Florida where his family moved when Webster was seven, upon a doctor's recommendation that a change of climate might cure Webster's sinus problems. He is a distant relative of the antebellum politician and orator Daniel Webster.
He attended the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he was student government chaplain from 1970 to 1971 and a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. He graduated in 1971 with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering. Upon graduation, Webster's Vietnam war era student deferment expired and he became eligible for conscription into the U.S. military. He was not drafted, however, because he failed the physical exam due to lifelong foot problems which prevent him from standing for long periods of time.
Florida House of RepresentativesEdit
Webster first decided to run for the Florida House in 1979 at the age of 30. He had been working on a project with his church to convert a residential house into a place for Sunday school to be conducted. When the Orange County commissioners rejected the church's request for a zoning exception, Webster investigated and found that the county commission had rejected every zoning exemption request brought before them by a church or religious organization. Seeking to rectify what he thought an injustice, Webster decided to run for public office after finding no politician who shared his displeasure with local and statewide government.
In the Republican primary, Webster ranked first with 38%, but failed to obtain the 50% threshold necessary to avoid a run-off election. In the run-off, he defeated Barbara Owens 54%–46%. In the general election, he defeated Democratic State Representative Henry Swanson 51%–49%, a difference of just 2,070 votes. The race came down to one precinct, Webster's own Pine Hills, which he won.
After redistricting, he decided to run in the newly redrawn Florida's 41st House District. He won re-election to a second term by defeating Craig Crawford 58%–42%. In 1984, he won re-election to a third term against State Representative Dick Batchelor, 54%–46%.
After defeating Batchelor in 1984, he never had another election opponent in the State House of Representatives as he won re-election unopposed each two years thereafter.
Webster was first elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1980. There, he served as Minority Floor Leader, and then Minority Whip. In 1996, when the Republicans gained a majority in the House, Webster became the first Republican Speaker of the Florida House in 122 years. He remained Speaker until 1998 when term limits made him ineligible to run for re-election to the state House.
During his tenure as Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, Webster received recognition and awards from a number of organizations, including the American Heart Association for support of AHA priority issues (1996), the Board of Regents Legislative Award (1995), the Florida Association of State Troopers Leadership Award for Excellence in Legislative Leadership (1996), the Florida Banking Association Award (1995), the Florida Chamber of Commerce Legislator of the Year (1995), the Florida Farm Bureau Legislative Award (1995), the Florida Hotel and Motel Association Special Recognition Award (1995), the Florida League of Cities Quality Floridian (1995), the Florida Medical Association recognition award (1996), and the Republican Party of Florida Statesman of the Year award (1995).
Webster's first bill to become law was the 1985 Home Education Program Act which legalized homeschooling in Florida. He considers it his most significant legislation. He homeschooled his six children, remains a homeschooling advocate, and a member of a non-denominational Christian organization that promotes homeschooling, the Institute in Basic Life Principles. While Speaker of the House in 1997, Webster insisted that legislation providing funding to schools must balance the needs of all school districts and not raise any new taxes. He agreed to a school construction plan funded by borrowing up of to 2.5 billion in bonds, though he thought the crowding problem was being exaggerated for political purposes. He also sponsored 1998 legislation to improve and streamline pre-kindergarten education and provide training for parents who would be homeschooling their children.
In 1990, Webster sponsored and supported legislation in Florida introducing the policy of covenant marriage. This would make divorce between even two consenting individuals much harder, except in cases of infidelity.
- House Transportation Committee (Ranking Member)
In 2002, he unsuccessfully tried for the position of Senate President. From 2006 to 2008, he served as Senate Majority Leader. In 2006, while Majority Leader of the Florida Senate, he received the Florida Family Policy Council Award (2006).
The Florida Department of Transportation Turnpike District Headquarters was named the "Senator Daniel Webster Building" in 2008 and in 2005 State Road 429 was designated the "Daniel Webster Western Beltway". In addition, the largest committee room in the Florida House was named "Speaker Daniel Webster Hall" in his honor in 2008.
In 2007, Webster attached an amendment to a bill for steroid testing of high school athletes that would have created an oversight body for private school athletes separate from the Florida High School Athletic Association. He said the provision was in response to complaints from private schools that had been allegedly singled out for recruiting violations.
In 2008 Webster sponsored SB 2400 in the Florida Senate requiring that all women planning to undergo an abortion receive an ultrasound, but giving them a choice of whether to see the live images of the fetus. He argued that it would give women more medical information prior to receiving an abortion, and said if that changed some women's minds, it would make him happy. Opponents said the measure would be an invasion of privacy. The bill did not pass the Senate at that time, but later became law. He also sponsored a law that would have required minors to notify their legal guardians before receiving an abortion. It has been alleged that Webster does not believe in the right to have an abortion following rape or incest. When questioned by a reporter on the topic, Webster declines to comment. He eventually stated that this was an issue being used to distract from his real issue which was that "Washington is broken." 
- Schiavo case
Webster was a central figure in the Terri Schiavo case which involved a dispute between relatives on whether to remove the feeding tube of an unconscious woman who had been in a persistent vegetative state for years. In March 2005, he introduced SB 804 that would have prohibited such patients from being denied food and water if family members disagreed on the patient's wishes and if the patient had not expressed his wishes in writing when competent. The bill failed to pass the Senate by three votes.
He also chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee.
U.S. House of RepresentativesEdit
Webster rejected early suggestions by several leaders in the Republican Party of Florida that he run to represent Florida's 8th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives, but in April 2010, he changed his mind and entered the race. Webster's name recognition and an endorsement from former Governor of Florida Jeb Bush quickly turned him into the race front-runner. He was further aided by a late endorsement and campaign rally from former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee. On August 24, 2010, Webster defeated six other candidates in the Republican primary winning nomination with forty percent of the vote, while the runner-up received twenty-three percent. Webster was named one of fifty-two "Young Guns" of the National Republican Congressional Committee's Young Guns Program, those the Republican Party viewed as serious contenders in their races.
The campaign featured ads by opponent Grayson that criticized Webster's conservative religious views on marriage and abortion as well as attack ads against Grayson that were financed by Americans for Prosperity and the 60 Plus Association.
On November 2, 2010, Webster won the seat by a 56% to 38% margin. Three other candidates were on the ballot: Independent George Metcalfe, Florida Whig Party candidate Steve Gerritzen, and Peg Dunmire of the Florida TEA Party.
Due to redistricting, Webster ran for reelection in the 10th district. Webster defeated Val Demings, the former Chief of Police of the Orlando Police Department, by a slim 52% to 48% margin to secure re-election.
Webster faced former Navy Chief Petty Officer Mike McKenna, who was a Walt Disney World security officer. McKenna had very limited budget and ran a door-to-door campaign. Webster easily cruised to reelection by a margin of 62% to 38%.
Due to a series of court-ordered re-drawings that made the 10th district substantially more Democratic, Webster announced he would instead run for the open seat of the 11th district. The re-tooled 11th District boundaries includes a swath of Webster's former 10th district. He opted to maintain his residence in Winter Garden, within the borders of the 10th; members of Congress are only required to live in the state they wish to represent. Webster won the Republican primary 60%-40% over Justin Grabelle. He followed up with a 65%-32% victory in the general election over Democrat Dave Koller.
Webster's main platform in the 2010 election was a call for smaller, streamlined government, spending cuts, budget roll backs, and tax cuts. He also said he would increase the protection of personal rights and encourage financial responsibility in the federal government. Webster predicted that if Republicans took back Congress in November, "we would have the opportunity for turning this country around." In the January 2015 vote for Speaker of the House, Webster received the second most Republican votes.
On September 28, 2015, Webster announced that he was running again for Speaker of the House to replace John Boehner. He received 43 votes in the House GOP Conference. However, most members of the Freedom Caucus who voted for him in conference honored their pledge to support Ryan on the House floor, and Webster received nine votes in the final tally.
2004 U.S. Senate electionEdit
Webster briefly ran for the United States Senate in 2004 when he attempted to collect the 93,000 signatures necessary to place his name on the ballot without paying the filing fee. Webster claimed that he sought to be the first Senate candidate to ever qualify using this method as both a symbolic gesture and a way to build an early network of voters. Webster eventually qualified by paying the fee instead, and later dropped out of the race.
When Mel Martinez resigned from the United States Senate, it fell upon Governor Charlie Crist to name a replacement to finish out his Senate term. Webster was floated early on as one of seven potential candidates for the position. In the end, George LeMieux was selected for the position.
Webster is a Southern Baptist and attends First Baptist Church of Central Florida. He is on the University of Central Florida board of trustees. He and his wife Sandy have six grown children. As of 2010, they had five grandchildren.
In May 2014, their son John married Alyssa Bates, daughter of Gil and Kelly Bates. The Bates family stars in the reality show Bringing Up Bates and have been recurring guests on the show 19 Kids and Counting, which depicts the lives of their friends, Jim Bob Duggar and his wife Michelle.
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- Thompson, Bill (August 25, 2010). "Ocala's Kelly fails to Webster; Stearns wins primary". Ocala Business Journal. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
- James A. Smith, Sr. (May 8, 2008). "Webster leaves Legislature with family, principles, faith intact". Florida Baptist Witness. Archived from the original on March 7, 2012. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
- Hollis, Mark (August 14, 1996). "Webster is Poised to Become House Speaker". The Ledger. Lakeland, Florida. p. D4. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
- "Representative Daniel Webster Speaker (1996–1998)". Tallahassee, Florida: Florida House of Representatives. 2010. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
- Bill Thompson (September 29, 2010). "Grayson criticized for recent attack ads: Opponent Webster calls the ads false and distorted". Ocala Star-Banner.
- Kam, Dara (August 20, 2009). "Crist puts Dan Webster on list of U.S. Senate candidates". The Palm Beach Post. West Palm Beach, Florida. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
- Anita Kumar (March 18, 2005). "One by One, Options Sink". St. Petersburg Times. p. 9A. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
- "Our Campaigns - FL State House 39 - R Primary Race - Sep 09, 1980". ourcampaigns.com. Retrieved May 14, 2015.
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- AP staff reporter (July 11, 1984). "7 Floridians Drop from Democratic Delegation". The Gainesville Sun. Gainesville, Florida. p. 3D. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
- Bousquet, Steve; Alex Leary (April 26, 2007). "Tax Swap Runs into Words of Caution". St. Petersburg Times. St. Petersburg, Florida. p. 1B. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
- Mark Schlueb (September 26, 2010). "Grayson TV ad compares Webster to Taliban; Incumbent in U.S. House race, Alan Grayson continues tough TV commercial campaign". Orlando Sentinel.
- Schlenker, Dave (November 6, 1997). "School Districts May Have to Raise Some of Their Own Funds". Ocala Star-Banner. pp. 1B, 3B. Retrieved November 6, 2010.
- Michael Griffin (November 8, 1997). "Cash Ready For Schools Chiles: Expect To See A Building Boom In 1998". Orlando Sentinel. p. A.1. Retrieved November 6, 2010.
- Gady A. Epstein (November 7, 1997). "$2.7 billion deal reached for schools". Tampa Tribune.[dead link]
- Andrews, Bill (March 30, 1998). "Give Kids a Great Gift: A Head Start on Life". Boca Raton News. Boca Raton, Florida. p. 8A. Retrieved November 9, 2010.
- Palm, Anika Myers. "Florida chapter of National Organization for Women endorses Alan Grayson". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved November 22, 2013.
- "Biography - Congressman Dan Webster". house.gov. Retrieved May 14, 2015.
- "Daniel Webster". Orlando Sentinel. Orlando, Florida. 2010. Archived from the original on May 26, 2008. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
- S.V. Date (January 6, 2002). "Eight Isn't Enough If Senate District-Flippers Manage To Get Their Way". The Palm Beach Post. p. 3E.
- Goodbread, Chase (May 3, 2007). "FHSAA could be public-only". The Florida Times-Union. Jacksonville, Florida. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
- Michael C. Bender (April 29, 2008). "If watching ultrasounds changes minds on abortion — great, Webster says". The Palm Beach Post.
- Royse, David (May 1, 2008). "Abortion Ultrasound Bill Fails in Florida Senate". Jacksonville, Florida: firstcoastnews.com. Associated Press. Archived from the original on January 23, 2013. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
- Ashley Lopez (June 27, 2011). "Scott signs two more abortion bills into law". The Florida Independent. Retrieved October 16, 2011.
- Grim, Ryan (September 26, 2010). "Alan Grayson Opponent Challenged By Local Media On Opposition To Abortion Rights For Rape Victims (VIDEO)". Huffington Post. Retrieved November 22, 2013.
- Cave, Damien (October 6, 2010). "A Florida Lawmaker Not Known for Subtlety, and Proud of It". The New York Times. Retrieved October 7, 2010.
- Samantha Gross (March 24, 2005). "Florida Senate rejects bill to keep Schiavo alive". StAugustine.com. Associated Press. Retrieved October 16, 2011.
- Steven Ertelt (March 18, 2005). "Florida Senate Decides Not to Approve House-Passed Bill on Terri Schiavo". LifeNews. Retrieved October 16, 2011.
- Follick, Joe; Lloyd Dunkelberger (March 18, 2005). "Effort to Keep Schiavo Alive Falters in Senate". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Sarasota, Florida. p. 18A. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
- Schlueb, Mark (August 24, 2010). "Florida Primary Results 2010: Florida Dan Webster is GOP nominee to take on Alan Grayson in November". Orlando Sentinel. Orlando, Florida. Retrieved October 16, 2011.
- Sahd, Tim (August 22, 2010). "FL, AZ House: Top 5 Primaries To Watch Tuesday". National Journal. Washington, D.C. Atlantic Media Company. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
- Matthews, Mark (August 20, 2010). "Huckabee to rally for Webster on Sunday, maybe Diebel too". Orlando Sentinel. Orlando, Florida. Tribune Company. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
- AP and WOFL FOX staff (August 25, 2010). "Webster wins Fla. GOP nod to challenge Grayson". My Fox Orlando. Retrieved November 10, 2010.
- Miller, Sean (August 31, 2010). "NRCC ups its 'Gun' count to 52". The Hill. Washington, D.C. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
- Americans for Prosperity Applauds U.S. House Candidate Daniel Webster Archived June 10, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.; Americans for Prosperity; July 15, 2010
- Fell, Jacqueline (November 2, 2010). "Grayson Concedes in District 8 Race". Central Florida News 13. Orlando, Florida. Bright House Networks. Retrieved November 3, 2010.
- "Candidate Listing for 2010 General Election". Division of Elections. Tallahassee, Florida: Florida Department of State. 2010. Retrieved August 31, 2010.
- Ferris, Kevin (August 29, 2010). "Back Channels: Democrats backing 'tea-party' candidates". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Philadelphia. Retrieved August 31, 2010.
- Crate, Paul (November 5, 2014). "U.S. Congress District 10: Rep. Daniel Webster Is Easily Returned To Office". The ledger. Retrieved November 5, 2014.
- U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster will challenge for District 11 congressional seat
- Webster, Daniel (2010). "The Issues". Daniel Webster for Congress. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
- French, Lauren. "How not to oust a speaker". Retrieved 11 January 2015.
- Brendan Farrington (February 22, 2004). "Senate Candidate Seeks 93,000 Signatures". Boca Raton News. Boca Raton, Florida. p. 15. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
- Damron, David (April 22, 2010). "Will Webster run against Grayson? It looks like it". Orlando Sentinel. Orlando, Florida. Tribune Company. p. 1. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
- Steve Bousquet (August 8, 2009). "Martinez's replacement could be Jim Smith, a former attorney general and secretary of state". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved November 9, 2010.
- Balz, Dan (August 28, 2009). "Florida Governor Taps LeMieux for Senate". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
- Staff (5 January 2011). "Ten Southern Baptists sworn in as new reps.". Baptist Press. Archived from the original on December 26, 2014. Retrieved 25 December 2014.
- Kaczor, Bill (October 22, 2009). "State panel names 21 Fla. university trustees". Newsday. Melville, New York. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
- Congressman Daniel Webster official U.S. House site
- Daniel Webster for Congress
- Daniel Webster at DMOZ
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Project Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at the Library of Congress
|U.S. House of Representatives|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 8th congressional district
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 10th congressional district
|Current U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
|United States Representatives by seniority