U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, R-Fla., has a simple message for retiring U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., if he wants a rematch in 2018: bring it on.
Florida Politics reported last week that Grayson had filed to run in 2018 even as he leaves Congress. Webster defeated Grayson, then running for his third term, in 2010. Two years later, after redistricting, Grayson won a seat that was far more favorable to Democrats. After another round of redistricting, Webster left Central Florida to claim a seat further to the north while Grayson lost in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary to U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla.
Talking to Florida Politics, Grayson downplayed filing the paperwork to run again.
“The campaign raises money all the time,” Grayson told Florida Politics. “When the campaign raises a certain amount of money after an election, the campaign is legally required under the Federal Election Campaign Act to file a candidate’s statement of candidacy.
“The statement of candidacy form requires some kind of designation of an actual district, and the reason for that is the FEC keeps its records in terms of congressional districts,” Grayson noted. “Legally, I can run anywhere in Florida.”
For his part, Webster is playing up the possibility that he could face Grayson in a rematch of their 2010 race. Webster routed Grayson at the polls, beating him 56 percent to 38 percent.
In an email to supporters sent out last week, Webster painted Grayson as “liberal” and took aim at his “extreme liberal policies” and pointed out “his ridiculous television ads earned him national attention during my first race for Congress in 2010.”
Webster noted Grayson has traditionally been a strong fundraiser.
“Grayson’s far left positions and his radical publicity stunts often allow him to raise significant funds from his liberal base of supporters,” Webster insisted. “He will undoubtedly enter this race with substantial funding from these supporters.”
But if Grayson decides he wants a third stint in Congress, there are other targets including incoming Democrats U.S. Reps. Val Demings and Darren Soto who are both based in his old stomping grounds in Central Florida. Soto, whose record on business issues won him the endorsement of the Florida Chamber of Commerce when he was in the Legislature, could be a tempting target for Grayson. Soto won the Democratic primary back in August with 36 percent, beating Dena Grayson, the retiring congressman’s wife, and Susannah Randolph, who was once a Grayson aide, who both pulled 28 percent each.