By Nancy Kennedy - Citrus Chronicle
Daniel Webster wants to do in Washington what he did in Tallahassee as Speaker of the House — make the body member-driven and principle-based as it was intended.
“As it is, most legislative bodies are based on power,” he told the Chronicle editorial board Wednesday. “A few people at the top of the pyramid of power make all the decisions. If one of the people is your guy or gal, you like it. But if it’s not your guy, you don’t like it — and that’s most of the people. All the rest of the members aren’t called upon much, especially on major issues.”
U.S. Rep Daniel Webster, R-Winter Garden, is running for the District 11 seat currently held by U.S. Rep Rich Nugent, R-Brooksville, who is not seeking re-election.
Webster, who has represented District 10 since 2013, joined the District 11 race after the court-ordered redistricting changed the political makeup of District 10.
He faces Justin Grabelle, Nugent’s former chief of staff, for the seat.
“I’ve been in Congress five and a half years ... the redistricting divided my district six ways, so part of it was sent to St. Augustine, part went down to Okeechobee, part down to Tampa. I own a home in Lake County, and the Lake County portion of the district stayed intact pretty much, but the rest was scattered,” he said, explaining his reasons for joining the District 11 race.
District 11 includes all of Sumter, Hernando and Citrus counties, part of Lake County and most of Marion County.
“I’ve never run here in Citrus or Hernando counties; however, I do know the area and have an affinity for it,” he said. “I needed 61 votes to be the first Republican Speaker in 122 years ... and when Nancy Argenziano won her race, she was my 61st vote.”
Hearkening back to his time as Speaker, Webster said under his leadership, with a member-driven House, they enjoyed approval ratings even higher than then-Gov. Lawton Chiles, who was an extremely popular governor.
However, more than public approval, Webster advocates for a more equitable balance of power, where every member truly has a say.
“To me, the majority is the majority,” he said. “If you have the votes, your issue should pass. But it’s more than that. We write rules every day that circumvent the rules. We have a 49-page rule book, and what I beg for is for us just to use the rule book!”
He added that he challenged former Speaker John Boehner on the issue, to no avail, but the current speaker, Paul Ryan, is now talking about a member-driven process.
“I couldn’t beat him, but I did affect him,” he said.
Webster also touched on other areas of national concern:
* War on terror — “I wasn’t for the Iran deal. They are the biggest terror-producing country, and we had a tourniquet on their money ... by taking the tourniquet off their economy, we’re helping to create more terrorists ... ISIS has to be destroyed.”
* Affordable Care Act — “I voted to get rid of it ... I prefer health care reform rather than insurance reform ... I’m for care we need at a cost we can afford by a doctor we choose.”
* Immigration — “I support a wall at the Mexican-U.S. border ... but more than that, the Department of the Interior has rules to keep a vehicle from patrolling and we need to be able to patrol in a vehicle.”