Former House Speaker and current state Sen. Daniel Webster of Orlando handed Tom Gallagher a valuable end of campaign gift on Friday: his endorsement. Webster, elected House speaker in 1996 as the first Republican in that post since Reconstruction, has long been considered the conservative standard-bearer in the legislature.
"I have known Tom a long time and Charlie a long time and Tom has wound himself around issues that concern me,'' Webster said. "I believe anyone who would want a like-minded conservative, he is the one to vote for. He supports issues on principle, not the populist view. That's important to me.''
His endorsement not only helps underscore Gallagher's popularity among high profile conservative leaders, it is likely to brings with it quite a few votes. In addition to his, Webster said he brings his wife and six voting age children and maybe a few more. After the event, a woman approached him and told him her father wanted to know who Webster was voting for in the Republican primary. "He wanted to vote for who I was voting for,'' he said.
So, does the senior senator think this last-minute jolt of support is going to help Gallagher close the gap in the poll numbers between him and Charlie Crist? "I think it's going to be very hard for him to pull it off,'' Webster conceded. "But anything's possible."