Last year, Congressman Rich Nugent announced that he would not be running for a fourth term in Congressional District 11 despite the favorable redistricting for a conservative candidate. Nugent made it clear that he wanted to spend more time with his family and grandchildren.
After the announcement, Nugent’s Chief of Staff, Justin Grabelle, quickly threw his hat in the ring with Nugent’s support and blessing. A few months later, Pastor Jack Martin announced that he would also run for the open seat.
Since December, we have been hearing rumblings that rancher Kelly Rice was considering a run for the seat and that he had the support of some very powerful people in the district. Rice is a graduate of Pasco High School and a friend of Senator Wilton Simpson who has indicated he’d support Rice.
At the same time, we began hearing that Congressman Daniel Webster, who currently resides in and represents Congressional District 10, was planning to change districts and run in District 11 due to redistricting changes. Congressional District 10 might be impossible for a Republican to win while Congressional District 11 favors a Republican.
This afternoon, Congressman Webster announced his intention to run for the District 11 seat.
If you don’t know who Daniel Webster is, here is a short bio:
- Webster was first elected to the state legislature in 1980 and served 28 years becoming the longest serving legislator in Florida History.
- He served as the minority whip until Republicans gained control of the House and he then became the first Republican Speaker in 122 years.
- The first bill he sponsored that actually became law legalized homeschooling in Florida.
- The Florida Department of Transportation Turnpike District Headquarters is named “Senator Daniel Webster Building along with State Road 429 being named “Daniel Webster Western Beltway.” In addition, the largest committee room in the Florida House is named “Speaker Daniel Webster Hall.”
- Webster was first elected to Congress in 2010 and in January 2015 he tried to unseat John Boehner as Speaker of the House. He received the second most Republican votes. Webster tried again in September 2015 but lost to Paul Ryan after initial supporters changed their votes in the final tally.
Upon entering the race, Webster instantly became the front-runner in the 11th Congressional District. There is no doubt that Webster can gather the support and raise the dollars needed to win a district race. And, he has serious conservative leanings which resonate well in Sumter, Marion, Lake, Hernando, and Citrus Counties.
Justin Grabelle tried to spin Webster’s announcement as a career politician who is more interested in Washington political games than doing the work of the people. However, that’s a hard argument to make when you have been in Washington longer than your opponent. Grabelle worked for Ginny Brown-Waite and then Rich Nugent and has been in Washington for the last 10 years.
Whether it was coincidence or not, Pastor Jack Martin announced today that he had signed the pledge from “U.S. Term Limits.” The pledge states that he will back a constitutional amendment limiting members of the U.S. House to three terms and U.S. Senators to two terms. Was this directed at Webster?
Other candidates for Congressional District 11 include Dave Koller and State Senator Nancy Argenziano for the Democrats. And, Matt Schnackenberg who is running as a Libertarian.
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