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Weatherford adds Mears, Duffy to House speaker’s office

Thursday, June 7th, 2012 by John Kennedy

Incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, has begun staffing up in anticipation of taking over the state House reins following the November elections.

Weatherford on Thursday announced he has hired veteran Capitol aide Kathy Mears as his chief-of-staff. Mears began her Tallahassee career as spokeswoman for then-House Speaker Daniel Webster, R-Winter Garden, who in 1996 became the first Republican to lead the Florida House in 122 years.

Mears has since been a deputy chief-of-staff and legislative director under Gov. Charlie Crist, a deputy chief and communications director for Senate President Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie, and spokeswoman for Senate President Tom Lee, R-Brandon.

Weatherford also named Ryan Duffy as his communications director. Duffy recently worked as spokesman for the Republican leadership team in the House, and formerly was a speechwriter for Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Mel Martinez. He was also a deputy communications director for former Attorney General Bill McCollum’s gubernatorial campaign in 2010.

Kathy Mears heads to Webster campaign

Monday, October 4th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Longtime legislative staffer Kathy Mears, whose most recent government post was as Gov. Charlie Crist’s liaison with the legislature, has gone to work for her former boss Daniel Webster’s campaign for Congress.

Webster, a former House Speaker who also served as Senate Majority Leader before leaving office due to term limits two years ago, is running against U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, the outspoken Orlando Democrat who consistently gets into trouble for his controversial remarks.

“Don’t get sick, and if you do get sick, die quickly,” was Grayson’s analysis of GOP opposition to Democrats’ health care reforms in Sept. 2009 and likened the current health care system to a holocaust. Grayson also suggested that former VP Dick Cheney was a vampire.

More recently, Grayson got into hot water for running a campaign attack ad calling Webster “Taliban Dan” in which he uses a video clip of Webster saying wives should submit to their husbands and accusing accusing the Christian conservative of wanting to “impose his radical fundamentalism on us.”

Webster was actually instructing husbands not to rely solely on the Bible’s instructions for wives to submit but to pray for husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church.

Dan Webster won’t run against “Die quickly” Congressman

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009 by Dara Kam

Daniel Webster

Daniel Webster

Former state Sen. Daniel Webster won’t run against U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson despite pressure from GOP leaders for the conservative Republican to enter the race.

U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson

U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson

Grayson, a freshman Democratic Congressman from Orlando, catapulted to infamy with his characterization of Republicans’ health care proposal as “Don’t get sick and if you do get sick, die quickly.”

Grayson then drew even more criticism after an “apology” on the floor likening the current health crisis to the Holocaust.

Webster, a Christian conservative who served nearly three decades in the Florida legislature and served as House Speaker, said in a statement that despite encouragement from supporters he was prompted to “follow a principle that has always served me well: ‘When in doubt, don’t.’”

“I do firmly believe that in every public office there needs to be a resurgence of the basic principles on which this Republic was founded, and a return to our original standards of integrity and character,” he said.

Crist adds 3 former Congressmen to ever-growing U.S. Senate list

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009 by Dara Kam

Gov. Charlie Crist added three more Florida politicians to his possible appointees to fill U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez’ soon-to-be-vacated seat.

Former U.S. Reps. Mike Bilirakis, Lou Frey and Clay Shaw are now among the candidates Crist is considering, bringing his list to ten.

Shaw, a Fort Lauderdale Republican, served in Congress for more than 25 years. His district includes part of southern Palm Beach County.

Last week, Crist asked conservative favorite former House Speaker who later became a powerful state senator Daniel Webster to apply for the post. Crist is also considering former chief of staff George LeMieux, who ran Crist’s gubernatorial campaign and remains a close ally.

Crist said this weekend that he wants to fill the post by Sept. 8, the day when Congress reconvenes after a summer break.

Tomorrow, Crist will interview Shaw in South Florida, Bilirakis and former U.S. Rep. Bill Young in Tampa. He’ll also meet with Frey and former Florida Cabinet member Jim Smith, a Tallahassee lobbyist who served as both attorney general and secretary of state, in Tallahassee tomorrow, according to Crist spokeswoman Erin Isaac.

Crist, who is running in a GOP primary against former House Speaker Marco Rubio to replace Martinez, said previously “it is understood” that he’ll appoint someone who will not run against him next year.

Crist puts Dan Webster on list of U.S. Senate candidates

Thursday, August 20th, 2009 by Dara Kam

WebsterGov. Charlie Crist added former House Speaker Daniel Webster to the list of possible appointments to replace U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez who announced his resignation earlier this month.

Webster is the seventh politician tapped by Crist to apply for the post, which he is leaving office after one term to pursue.

Webster served in the Florida legislature for two decades, winning election to the Florida House where he served as speaker from 1996-1998 before leaving for the state senate where he eventually became Majority Leader.

Webster, an engineer who owns a heating and air conditioning business in Orlando, is a favorite of conservative Republicans who have pressured Crist appoint him to fill Martinez’ seat. Webster actively supported Gov. Mike Huckabee in his presidential bid.

Crist has interviewed several candidates over the past several days:
- State Rep. Jennifer Carroll, R-Jacksonville, the legislature’s only black Republican;
- University of North Florida President John Delaney, Jacksonville’s former mayor and a long-time Crist supporter;
- Miami trial lawyer Bobby Martinez, who served as a U.S. Attorney, headed Crist’s transition team and was appointed to the state Board of Education by Gov. Jeb Bush and reappointed by Crist;
- George LeMieux, Crist’s former chief of staff who also managed his gubernatorial campaign and remains close to the governor.

He’s also considering at least two others:
- Jim Smith, a former Florida Cabinet member who served as both attorney general and secretary of state. Smith, who switched parties from Democrat to Republican, is now a top-tier Tallahassee lobbyist whose partner, Brian Ballard, is also his son-in-law and one of Crist’s chief advisors.
- Long-serving U.S. Rep. Bill Young, an Indian Shores Republican from Crist’s hometown of Pinellas County. Young is in his 20th term in Congress.

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