The nail in the coffin of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s hopes of being the next speaker was opposition from the House Freedom Caucus. The rogue conservative group of about 30 members instead wants it to be Florida Rep. Daniel Webster.
But Webster might not even be coming back to the House in 2017, thanks to a redrawing of his congressional district that might make it unwinnable for the GOP.
Florida is being forced to redraw part of its congressional lines ahead of the 2016 elections after a court ruled the map produced for the 2012 elections violated an anti-gerrymandering amendment that passed in 2010. While not all districts will have to be redrawn, Webster’s Orlando-area district will be drastically affected.
Under current proposals, which the court will decide whether to accept or reject, Webster’s district would go from a GOP-leaning one to a Democratic-heavy seat.
The Orlando Sentinel shows how the district would change — from one with a four-point GOP registration edge to one with an 18-point Democratic one. That’s hard to overcome in any election, but will be especially perilous in a presidential year when key Democratic electoral groups turn out.
While GOP leaders are having conversations about a potential placeholder speaker until 2017 rolls around — after the presidential election — the Freedom Caucus shows no signs of backing off its endorsement of Webster, who got 12 votes for speaker this past January. Members of the group believe Webster, as a former speaker of the Florida House, already has leadership experience — and would manage the House from the bottom up instead of top down.
But by backing someone whose tenure in Congress could have an expiration date very soon, any momentum the conservative caucus could have gotten by pushing Webster could be for naught.