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Justin Grabelle and Daniel Webster campaigns dispute Webster’s missed votes earlier this week

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

It’s starting to get testy in the CD 11 GOP contest.

Daniel Webster serves in Congress in CD 10, but after redistricting of his seat made his chances for reelection much more remote, he opted to run for the CD 11 seat that will be vacated later this year by GOP incumbent Rich Nugent.

Justin Grabelle, Nugent’s former chief-of-staff who is also running for the seat, blasted Webster on Tuesday, claiming that Webster skipped out of two separate votes on counterterrorism and cyber security legislation so he could campaign in the district.

“I wish I could say I’m surprised that Congressman Webster decided to skip votes to campaign, but unfortunately, Congressman Webster is just another career politician looking to extend his taxpayer-funded job while not doing what the voters sent him to Washington to do,” Grabelle said on Tuesday, adding,“It’s increasingly clear that voters here don’t support a career politician abandoning his constituents in Orlando just to move to our community in a vain attempt to keep himself in office.”

The Grabelle campaign then sent reporters a list of the two missed roll call votes on Monday from the Office of the Clerk, House of Representatives.

Nonsense, replies the Webster campaign. They say the representative attended an event with the Association of Mature American Citizens (AMAC) in The Villages on Monday in to discuss legislation he’s cosponsored that gives seniors and veterans a cost of living adjustment.

“Rep. Webster did not have any campaign events on Monday,” said spokesman Andrew Tyrrell. “He attended the AMAC event as a sitting Member of Congress to discuss legislation he has cosponsored to give seniors and veterans a cost of living adjustment. AMAC supports this legislation.”

The Grabelle camp isn’t buying it.

“That’s a typical response from a career politician but it doesn’t pass the sniff test,” retorted Grabelle’s campaign manager, Nick Catroppo on Wednesday. “He went to The Villages, where he is seeking election but does not currently represent, to tout his support for legislation with a group that also supports it. That sure sounds like campaigning.”

Democrat Dave Koller and Libertarian Matt Schnackenberg  will face the Grabelle/Webster survivor in November.

Florida’s 11th Congressional district include parts of Citrus, Hernando, Sumter, Marion and Lake Counties.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at

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