ORLANDO, Fla. – A U.S. House incumbent Republican drew a rare primary challenge, which means GOP voters will go to the polls on Aug. 23.
Rep. Daniel Webster faces two challengers: conservative firebrand Laura Loomer and Gavriel Soriano.
U.S. House District 11 used to contain parts of Lake, Sumter, Citrus, Hernando and Marion counties, and encompassed all of The Villages.
The Florida Legislature, however, redrew the district boundaries this year and shifted U.S. House District 11 east.
It now includes west Orange County from Zellwood and Apopka down through Winter Garden, Windermere, the growing Horizons West area and much of the Four Corners area, down to just west of Interstate 4 in Polk County. It also includes much of Lake and Sumter County and most of The Villages.
Take a closer look at Florida’s redistricting maps HERE to get a better sense of what that means for you.
The winner of this race will go on to face a Democratic candidate, Shante Munns, and Kevin Porter, who is not affiliated with a political party, in the November general election.
Here’s what you should know about the three candidates in the U.S. House District 11 primary.
Laura Loomer is a far-right activist and provocateur whose “guerilla videos” and anti-Muslim rhetoric have gotten her banned from most mainstream social media. This is her second time running for Congress.
Loomer, 29, worked for the conservative media outlet Project Veritas. She’s also known for spreading conspiracy theories, including that the 2020 election was stolen, despite evidence to the contrary.
Loomer is an America First candidate who is going after Rep. Daniel Webster, whose health has caused him to miss votes in Congress in the last couple of years. She accused him of being an “empty suit” politician. She also said that him missing the votes on the second impeachment of former President Donald Trump and the creation of the Jan. 6 Commission are signs that he does not support the former president.
Loomer’s platform is very conservative. She’s pro-life, wants mass deportation of illegal immigrants and a moratorium on legal immigration, an expansion of domestic oil production and is pro-gun rights. Loomer is against the U.S.’s financial support for Ukraine in the war against Russia and considers herself an anti-globalist. She has also advocated for Christian nationalism, though she is Jewish.
Gavriel Soriano touts himself as a “son of U.S. House District 11.” He’s from a farming family and is an America First candidate.
Soriano is promising to hold monthly town square meetings and be more among his constituents, and wants to create task forces to “scrutinize” the departments of the federal governments and make changes that limit their reach, while disbanding any “superfluous” offices.
Soriano also wants to dismantle technology and factory farm monopolies, ban the importation of foreign workers, complete the border wall, promote small farm businesses, re-withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords, reduce the budget, eliminate federal agencies, and repeal the Affordable Care Act. He is also anti-abortion and pro-gun rights.
Rep. Dan Webster is a business owner and longtime Florida lawmaker. He served for decades in the Florida House and Senate before going to the U.S. House. For his service, the Florida Legislature named State Road 429 after him (the Daniel Webster Western Beltway).
Webster had said he would work across the aisle with Democrats when he first got to Washington, but he’s largely been in lockstep with the Republican Party on all votes, and in recent months his social media has included full-throated condemnation of the opposition party.
While Webster did miss the votes that Loomer accused him of missing, he did sign onto the lawsuit to discard the electoral votes of some states that voted for President Biden. He also voted on Jan. 6, 2021 to reject the certified election results of some states.
Webster has missed abort 5.6% of U.S. House votes over his lifetime in the House, which is higher than the median, according to Gov Track.US.
Webster’s a strong Christian conservative who opposes abortion and has voted against LGBTQ rights legislation. He’s also pro-gun rights, and for protecting Social Security and Medicare. He was a supporter of finishing the border wall and of strengthening border security. He’s also been hawkish about government spending and blames recent spending bills for causing higher inflation. He has supported Ukraine conflict funding.