Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Options For Would-Be Tea Party Speaker Daniel "Taliban Dan" Webster Staying In Congress Are Closing


Daniel Webster has been in the news lately because he's "running" (not really) for House Speaker as the Freedom Caucus/Tea Party candidate. He isn't considered a serious candidate with an actual chance to ever become Speaker, just a pawn in the game between the extremists and the mainstream conservative Establishment. But ole "Taliban Dan" is probably happy he's in the news as a potential Speaker rather than as someone who's about to lose his congressional seat. Let's talk about that for a minute. In 2010 Webster was elected in the 8th district in Central Florida. The following year, the corrupt Republican state legislature gerrymandered the state up again to create as many Republican seats as they could and Webster got a nice red seat, now called the 10th. In 2008, the 8th had gone to Obama by 5 points but the newly created 10th, which put many Democratic neighborhoods into the 9th district created a frankenstein-monster of a district that includes southwestern and southeastern Orlando but skirts areas where Democrats live, Obama would have lost by 5 points, quite the swing. And, in fact, in 2012, under those lines the district-- with a PVI of R+6-- gave Romney an even heftier 53-46% win. Webster beat a weak but well-funded Democrat, Val Demings, 52-48% in 2012 and then beat an even weaker Democrat, Michael McKenna, last year 62-38%.

But then the state of Florida was sued for the gerrymandered districts and a judge threw them out and one of the districts most effected was Webster's. Under the new lines-- Under the new lines-- which includes African-American neighborhoods of west Orlando and does not include any of red-leaning Lake County (or Polk County)-- the district that gave Romney a 53.4-45.7% win over Obama would have given Obama a 60.7-38.4% landslide win. Bye-bye Webster. (The likely Democratic challenger is a well-known, well-heeled and well-liked former state Democratic Party chairman, Bob Poe, a progressive who will first have to beat DCCC/EMILY's List deadbeat, Val Demings, who wants to give it another' try but is intensely disliked in the area.)

Meanwhile, there has been constant chatter about John Mica moving up to FL-06, a deep red district, much of which was his previously and leaving FL-07, his current district. The rationale is that FL-07 is a tough district, evenly split between Democrats and Republicans and could be a challenge for Mica. Under the old lines Romney beat Obama 51.8- 47.1% but under the new lines it would have been an exact 49.4-49.4% split. (FL-06, by contrast, newly open because current Congressman Ron DeSantis is running for Rubio's open Senate seat, will have a population that gave Romney 52.2% to Obama's 46.6%, much safer for Mica.) The problem is that Mica doesn't want to move and says he won't do it, especially since the DCCC has a typically lame candidate, Blue Dog Bill Phillips who would pose no real challenge to Mica. So much for the musical chairs scenario... unless Webster wants to skip a couple districts and move up to FL-06 himself, completely new territory for him.

He'd be looked at as a carpetbagger in a basically coastal district that stretches along the 95 from below Edgewater and New Smyrna Beach all the way up along the coast through Daytona Beach, Ormond Beach, and St. Augustine. Worse yet, for Webster, former Tea Party Republican Congresswoman Sandy Adams is already running in the 6th (as is New Smyrna Beach ex-mayor Adam Barringer). And the Democrat who represents Daytona Beach in the state House, Dwayne Taylor, announced last week that he's running as well. If Ted Cruz is at the top of the GOP ticket and it's an especially bad year for the GOP, FL-07 and FL-06 could both go blue (although Mica would be a better bet for the GOP in either district than Webster who would have a real struggle in both districts, though they're viewed as not as impossible as the new 10th. So, in all likelihood, like I already said... bye-bye Webster.

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