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Dan Webster Vows to Run for Speaker

Dan Webster Vows to Run for Speaker
Florida Rep. Dan Webster (AP)

By Monday, 12 October 2015 08:48 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Forty-eight hours after Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy suddenly abandoned his bid for speaker and chaos ensued in the House, Florida Rep. Dan Webster made it clear he was in the race to stay.

“Yes, I’m running for speaker — even if Paul Ryan gets in,” he told me on Oct. 10. He was referring to the efforts of GOP leaders to convince House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to enter the contest for the speaker’s gavel.

“Nothing’s changed,” Ryan told reporters following published reports that he was “reconsidering” his refusal to run for speaker after a torrent of encouragement from his 2012 running mate Mitt Romney and other prominent Republicans.

House Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz of Utah, the third contender for speakership insisted Friday he was still in the running but would defer to Ryan if he decided to run.

Meanwhile, five other GOP House members signaled they were now either running for speaker or exploring the race: Texas Reps. Mike Conaway and Bill Flores (chairman of the conservative House GOP Study Committee), Georgia Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn (who was encouraged by the American Conservative Union to make the race), and Webster’s fellow Floridian, House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller.

For his part, Webster said, “Our group [of supporters among House Republicans] is pretty strong.” As Romney, John Boehner and other national GOP leaders were urging Ryan to change his mind and run for speaker on Friday, the House Republican Freedom Caucus— which numbers roughly 30-to-40 right-leaning GOP lawmakers — reaffirmed its support for Webster.

Prior to their man’s surprise exit from the race, supporters of McCarthy voiced confidence he would win the blessings of the GOP Conference for speaker.

Privately, they worried that more than 30 of the Republican House members who supported Webster or Chaffetz would vote for a candidate other than McCarthy when the full House elected a speaker Oct. 29.

This would have plunged the race into multiple ballots for the first time since 1923 and possibly led to horse-trading and concessions on McCarthy’s part in order to secure the gavel.

In January, Webster received 12 of the 25 votes cast by Republicans for a speaker candidate other than Boehner.

“We had a lot more than 30 votes [committed in the Conference Thursday],” Webster told me, noting that members outside the Freedom Caucus were also in his corner. Rep. David Jolly of Florida for example, was scheduled to place his fellow Floridian’s name in nomination before the conference.

Colleagues actively working on Webster’s speaker bid include Reps. Paul Gosar of Arizona, and Bill Posey of Flordia, a close friend of Webster since they were state legislators together.

As he has before, Webster underscored to me that the changes the next speaker makes must be process-oriented rather than any change of philosophy.

“Right now, we have a power-based Congress making decisions. I want to make it a member-based Congress, in which we stop doing important things at the last minute," he said. "When you only have two days take up a continuing resolution, which we have coming up Dec. 11 or critical issues such as the funding of Planned Parenthood or the Iran nuclear deal, you can’t win against the Senate and the presidency.”

The former Florida House speaker has already released a 100-day plan which spells out his agenda for reforms, including the establishment of House deadlines for dealing with key legislation much earlier than it has.

Webster’s “member-driven process” message appeared to be resonating with colleagues before and after McCarthy’s surprise exit Thursday.

As Rep. David Schweikert of Arizona, who is so far neutral in the speaker’s race told me, “For many of us, this isn’t about a person or policies but process. We need to overhaul the entire process to that it makes us feel vested and not marginalized.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.


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Forty-eight hours after Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy suddenly abandoned his bid for speaker and chaos ensued in the House, Florida Rep. Dan Webster made it clear he was in the race to stay.
speaker, boehner, webster, chaffetz
Monday, 12 October 2015 08:48 AM
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