Webster credits positive campaign for Demings' defeat
November 7, 2012 | WMFE - Republican Dan Webster will serve another term in Congress. Webster now will represent Central Florida's 10th congressional district after defeating Democrat Val Demings, Orlando's former police chief. Webster did it even though he raised less money and ran no negative ads, as 90.7's Amy Green reports ...
Webster says his victory shows it's possible to change Washington's political culture of big spending and attack ads.
Webster: "I feel vindicated because I believed positive campaigning was going to win out. I believed that's the only way to run a campaign. There aren't very many that believe that. Certainly my opponent didn't, and those that supported her."
The race was close, and it pitted two well-known, well-liked candidates against each other.
Webster's spent his life in public service. That includes his election to Congress in 2010 and 28 years in the Florida Legislature.
Demings, an African-American, spent nearly 30 years at the Orlando Police Department before retiring as chief last year. She was the first woman to serve in the post.
Demings promised supporters she would carry on her career in public service. She says she's not going anywhere.
Demings: "As a law enforcement officer for 27 years, my life has been dedicated to protecting and serving people. Believe me I will continue to do that."
Webster continued his tradition of running a positive campaign … even though New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg contributed more than $2.3 million to Demings right before the election, triggering a flurry of attack ads.
The amount was about double what Webster raised during his entire campaign.
Webster's sense of integrity appealed to voters like Geoff Ringer, an Orlando attorney whose girlfriend has known Webster since she was in high school.
Ringer: "He's a man with a sense of honor, and I think frankly he's a role model for other representatives in the House, Democrats and Republicans, because he does genuinely put the nation ahead of his own interest in getting re-elected."
Demings thanked supporters at a downtown Orlando reception for Democrats. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer says she's a proven leader but that both candidates were strong.
Dyer: "It's not every race where you have two exceptional people to choose from. Their views are markedly different, but I have a lot of respect for Congressman Webster as well."
Already Webster's thinking ahead about how to resolve congressional issues like the fiscal cliff and farm bill.
District 10 includes parts of Orange, Lake and Polk counties.