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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rep. Dan Webster is running for House speaker



U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, R-Winter Garden, announced Friday that he will run to replace retiring House Speaker John Boehner, throwing himself into what will likely be a contentious battle.

"My goal is for the House of Representatives to be based on principle, not on power. Every Member of Congress deserves a seat at the table to be involved in the process. I will continue fighting for this to become a reality in Washington, and will be running for Speaker of the House," Webster said, just hours after he declined to comment on his future.

Webster was part of a failed plot to overthrow Boehner earlier this year but was unsuccessful. Still, the angst more conservative members held toward Boehner persisted, leading to his sudden decision Friday.

Webster faces big challenges within the chamber and outside. He would have to displace better-known rivals, including Boehner's No. 2, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California. And Webster's Orlando-area district is in jeopardy of being redrawn in the ongoing court-forced redistricting process under way in Tallahassee. His district could get a lot more favorable for a Democrat.

Technically a speaker does not have to be a member of the chamber, but the odds of that happening are extreme.

Webster is a former speaker of the Florida House and a top former member of the state Senate, respected by Republicans and Democrats alike. Earlier Friday he was cautious.

“Yesterday was the pope’s day; today is Speaker Boehner’s day,” Webster said in a statement. “Tomorrow is another day. As a former minority leader who became the first Republican Speaker of the House in Florida since Reconstruction, I know that leadership is not an easy task. It takes a lot of hard work, and for that, Speaker John Boehner should be commended. I have been honored to serve with him in Congress.”

But jockeying for leadership roles had begun and Webster figured he would not lose ground. His campaign issued an email fundraising solicitation hinting at his decision.

Webster, 66, was first elected to the U.S. House in 2010.

[Last modified: Friday, September 25, 2015 6:14pm]


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