Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: 2010, 2nd term.

Born: April 27, 1949, Charleston, WV

Home: Orlando

Education: GA Inst. of Technology, B.S. 1971.

Professional Career: Owner, Webster Air Conditioning and Heating.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Baptist

Family: Married (Sandra Jordan) , 6 children

Republican Daniel Webster, a staunch conservative, came out on top in two of the most vitriolic House elections in 2010 and 2012. He first breezed to victory over outspoken Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson, and then two years later overcame a flurry of attack ads from former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings and her Democratic supporters to eke out a win.

Webster was born in Charleston, W.Va., and is distantly related to his 19th century namesake, considered one of the greatest senators and orators in history. His family moved to Florida when he was 7 years old because a doctor told them the climate would help cure Webster’s sinus problems. He graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1971 with a degree in electrical engineering and began working in his family’s heating and air conditioning business. In 1972, he married Sandra Jordan, and the couple had six children. Webster eventually took over the family business. He became politically active in 1979, when he led his church’s effort to turn a house into a Sunday school, only to be refused a zoning exemption by the county commission.

Webster won a seat in the state House in 1996 and later became the first Republican speaker of the Florida House in 122 years. He sponsored a bill to ban nude performances in bars and another that would have required the legislature to study the impact of proposed laws on families. In 1998, Webster moved on to the state Senate, where he pushed to decrease the amount of gun control regulation and to restrict abortion rights. He also led legislative efforts to prolong the life of Terri Schiavo, a woman in a persistent vegetative state who became a national cause for conservatives. In 2008, he sponsored a bill requiring women to get an ultrasound test and view the results before getting an abortion.

With the backing of national Republicans, he challenged Grayson in 2010. Grayson had become a lightning rod for conservatives because of his harsh rhetoric during his two years in Congress. He once called Republicans “knuckle-dragging Neanderthals,” and on another occasion charged that the GOP solution to the health care crisis was for people to “die quickly.” His unapologetic liberalism made him a hero to the left, but Webster and Republicans believed him to be a poor fit for the more tempered politics of the district. Webster prevailed in a crowded primary with 40% of the vote. His nearest opponent was lawyer Todd Long, who finished with 23%.

In the fall, things heated up quickly. One of Grayson’s television ads dubbed Webster “Taliban Dan,” and accused him of proposing to make divorce illegal and of believing that women should submit to their husbands. A video clip of Webster in the ad, however, was taken out of context; Webster was actually asserting the opposite, according to the Orlando Sentinel, which endorsed Webster in part because of Grayson’s negative campaigning. Webster refused to debate Grayson, and to return his attacks in kind, saying, “We’re taking the high road. I’m not getting down in the dirt with him.” He focused his campaign on his opposition to the size of the federal government and the passage of President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Grayson’s strategy did manage to energize liberals nationally, and he raked in $6 million for his campaign, way outspending Webster, who raised just $1.8 million. But the district’s voters had other ideas; they turned out Grayson decisively, 56% to 38%.

In the House, Webster was given a seat on the Rules Committee, a position usually reserved for members whom leaders can trust to hew to the party line. He became the first GOP freshman to get a substantive bill through the House, with a measure aimed at limiting executive bonuses at companies that received financial industry bailout funds. He expressed support for House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s attempts to rein in spending and overhaul Medicare, a position that earned him national publicity in April 2011 after a hostile crowd at a town hall meeting in his district jeered him. He also drew heavy flak in newspaper editorials when in May 2012 he added an amendment onto the Commerce Department’s budget bill ending the American Community Survey, a demographic study for tracking neighborhoods’ social and economic changes. Webster called the survey “intrusive” and “unconstitutional,” but his amendment was unsuccessful.

In the 2012 election season, Grayson talked about a rematch with Webster, but ended up running for – and winning – the seat in the adjoining 9th District. Webster was initially considered a shoo-in against Demings, the Orlando police chief, but she outworked and outraised the congressman, whose fundraising had been among the weakest of the GOP freshmen. The Democrat pulled ahead in the polls and got more than $2 million from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s newly-formed group to assist candidates who supported gun control, with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spending another $1.5 million. She repeatedly accused Webster of using taxpayer money to create a “lobbyists’ lounge” when he served in the legislature, a reference to his decision to spend about $100,000 for renovations to the speaker’s office suite. He adamantly denied that the remodeling was done to serve lobbyists. Despite his opponents’ efforts, the GOP tilt of the district proved decisive, and Webster notched a 52%-48% victory.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-2176

(202) 225-0999

LHOB- Longworth House Office Building Room 1039
Washington, DC 20515-0910

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-2176

(202) 225-0999

LHOB- Longworth House Office Building Room 1039
Washington, DC 20515-0910

DISTRICT OFFICE

(407) 654-5705

(407) 654-5814

300 West Plant Street
Winter Garden, FL 34787-3009

DISTRICT OFFICE

(407) 654-5705

(407) 654-5814

300 West Plant Street
Winter Garden, FL 34787-3009

DISTRICT OFFICE

(352) 383-3552

(407) 654-5814

315 West Main Street
Tavares, FL 32778

DISTRICT OFFICE

(352) 383-3552

(407) 654-5814

315 West Main Street
Tavares, FL 32778

DISTRICT OFFICE

(352) 383-3552

(407) 654-5814

685 West Montrose Street
Clermont, FL 34711

DISTRICT OFFICE

(352) 383-3552

(407) 654-5814

685 West Montrose Street
Clermont, FL 34711

DISTRICT OFFICE

(863) 453-0273

(407) 654-5814

451 Third Street NW
Winter Haven, FL 33881

DISTRICT OFFICE

(863) 453-0273

(407) 654-5814

451 Third Street NW
Winter Haven, FL 33881

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(407) 295-3919

3400 Old Winter Garden Road
Orlando, FL 32805

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

3400 Old Winter Garden Road
Orlando, FL 32805

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Garrett Bess
Legislative Director; Acting Chief of Staff

Aerospace

Andrew Tyrrell
Legislative Assistant

Christa Pearson
Legislative Aide

Agriculture

Evan Lee
Legislative Assistant

evan.lee@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2176

Animal Rights

Christa Pearson
Legislative Aide

Appropriations

Garrett Bess
Legislative Director; Acting Chief of Staff

Andrew Tyrrell
Legislative Assistant

Christa Pearson
Legislative Aide

Arts

Christa Pearson
Legislative Aide

Banking

Andrew Tyrrell
Legislative Assistant

Budget

Garrett Bess
Legislative Director; Acting Chief of Staff

Commerce

Andrew Tyrrell
Legislative Assistant

Communication

Evan Lee
Legislative Assistant

evan.lee@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2176

Congress

Garrett Bess
Legislative Director; Acting Chief of Staff

Disaster

Evan Lee
Legislative Assistant

evan.lee@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2176

Andrew Tyrrell
Legislative Assistant

Education

Evan Lee
Legislative Assistant

evan.lee@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2176

Energy

Evan Lee
Legislative Assistant

evan.lee@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2176

Environment

Evan Lee
Legislative Assistant

evan.lee@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2176

Finance

Andrew Tyrrell
Legislative Assistant

Foreign

Christa Pearson
Legislative Aide

Govt Ops

Evan Lee
Legislative Assistant

evan.lee@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2176

Christa Pearson
Legislative Aide

Health

Andrew Tyrrell
Legislative Assistant

Homeland Security

Andrew Tyrrell
Legislative Assistant

Housing

Andrew Tyrrell
Legislative Assistant

Immigration

Garrett Bess
Legislative Director; Acting Chief of Staff

Insurance

Andrew Tyrrell
Legislative Assistant

Intelligence

Andrew Tyrrell
Legislative Assistant

Intergovernmental

Christa Pearson
Legislative Aide

Judiciary

Garrett Bess
Legislative Director; Acting Chief of Staff

Labor

Andrew Tyrrell
Legislative Assistant

Lobbying Politics

Evan Lee
Legislative Assistant

evan.lee@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2176

Military

Andrew Tyrrell
Legislative Assistant

Native Americans

Christa Pearson
Legislative Aide

Rules

Garrett Bess
Legislative Director; Acting Chief of Staff

Science

Christa Pearson
Legislative Aide

Tax

Garrett Bess
Legislative Director; Acting Chief of Staff

Technology

Christa Pearson
Legislative Aide

Telecommunications

Andrew Tyrrell
Legislative Assistant

Trade

Andrew Tyrrell
Legislative Assistant

Transportation

Evan Lee
Legislative Assistant

evan.lee@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-2176

Veterans

Andrew Tyrrell
Legislative Assistant

Welfare

Garrett Bess
Legislative Director; Acting Chief of Staff

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Daniel Webster
Votes: 164,649
Percent: 51.74%
Val Demings
Votes: 153,574
Percent: 48.26%
2012 PRIMARY
Daniel Webster
Unopposed
2010 GENERAL
Daniel Webster
Votes: 123,586
Percent: 56.11%
Alan Grayson-OLD
Votes: 84,167
Percent: 38.22%
2010 PRIMARY
Daniel Webster
Votes: 24,753
Percent: 40.19%
Todd Long
Votes: 14,082
Percent: 22.86%
Kurt Kelly
Votes: 8,311
Percent: 13.49%
Patricia Sullivan
Votes: 6,507
Percent: 10.57%
Bruce O'Donoghue
Votes: 4,394
Percent: 7.13%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (56%)

To order a print copy of the 2016 edition of the Almanac of American Politics, click here. For questions about print orders, call Columbia Books at 1-888-265-0600 ext 0266 or email customer service.

For questions about the digital Almanac, please contact your Dedicated Advisor or Membership@NationalJournal.com.

×