Rep. Daniel Webster might be paying a price in Congress for defying House Speaker John Boehner—but his political campaign is also reaping financial rewards.
Despite losing his post on the powerful Rules Committee after running for speaker earlier this year, the Florida Republican posted one of his strongest fundraising quarters since joining Congress. And Webster did that with scant help from D.C.-based, leadership-aligned groups that have traditionally boosted him. Of the nearly $235,000 he raised this fundraising quarter, only $3,000 came from PACs.
Instead, nearly all of Webster's receipts came from individuals in Florida.
"Conservatives reacted resoundingly favorably to Dan Webster's challenge for the speakership," said Mike Levine, chairman of the Republican Party in Lake County, in Webster's district. "We're just getting started."
Webster's $235,000 marks his second highest quarterly total since taking office in 2011. The amount, a Webster aide said, "was fueled by a pretty straightforward strengthening of the base."
In past years, Webster hasn't been a particularly prolific fundraiser, and he's relied heavily on GOP leaders and their network of outside groups.
In 2012, during Webster's last competitive campaign for Congress, then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor and current Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy pumped tens of thousands of dollars to lift Webster, as did outside groups with ties to House leadership.
Two years before that, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into Webster's race against independently wealthy Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson. Grayson infamously called Webster a "religious fanatic" and labeled him "Taliban Dan"—an attack ad that ultimately aided the Republican's fundraising and probably contributed to Webster's victory.
Webster challenged Boehner for speaker in early January, netting 12 votes, the highest of any Boehner rival. In an apparent act of political payback, Webster was kicked off the Rules Committee, along with fellow Florida Republican Rep. Richard Nugent. "My philosophy is don't burn any bridges, don't make it personal," Webster told reporters at the time. "But that's not everybody's philosophy."
Boehner's office did not respond to a request for comment.
After his bid for House speaker, Webster was quick to try to cash in. At the end of January, he sent a fundraising plea, warning supporters that the move would cost him.
"Because I stood up for principle, my campaign will undoubtedly suffer financially in the coming months," Webster wrote in the fundraising appeal. "Any funds I may have hoped to receive from PACs and other members of Congress will likely evaporate."
Webster wasn't the only one who challenged Boehner for speaker and suffered a decline in PAC donations. Republican Rep. Ted Yoho, who drew two votes for the speakership (including one from himself), pulled in $12,000 from PACs. Yoho hasn't typically raised too much from PACs, but it's still a decline from this fundraising period two years ago, when he drew $41,000 from the groups in his first months in Congress. Yoho raised almost $57,000 this fundraising quarter.
"While we enjoy broad-based support, our campaign has been traditionally supported largely by a strong grassroots team, and we have no plans to change that," Yoho spokeswoman Kat Cammack said.
Scott Bland contributed to this article
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.
Kimberly Railey is an editorial fellow for National Journal Hotline. Prior to joining National Journal, she covered Congress at the Washington bureau of The Dallas Morning News. She has also written for The Boston Globe, USA TODAY, and The Christian Science Monitor. Originally from South Florida, she graduated from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, where she served as managing editor of The Daily Northwestern.