• District 10 candidates Webster and Demings hold debate


    WINTER GARDEN, Fla. - Rep. Dan Webster and former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings squared off in a debate Friday afternoon.

    They are fighting for voters in Florida's newly-drawn 10th district.

    Due to redistricting, the area includes a portion of Polk County and runs north through Lake and Orange counties.

    The two candidates have raised a significant amount of money, and attack ads have flooded the television airwaves and mailboxes.

    The most contentious moments of Friday's debate were sparked by a question teed up for congressman Webster by former Orange County Mayor and fellow Republican Rich Crotty.

    Crotty asked about an attack ad accusing Webster of building a private lounge for lobbyists.

    "Did it cost any money? No. Did it hurt anybody? No. What it did do is honor some people that had been forgotten," Webster responded.

    "Look, I would suggest that you check the record," said Demings.

    Mostly, the candidates stuck to the talking points that fill their campaign speeches.

    Webster railed against government spending, while Demings vowed to preserve social programs.

    WFTV political analyst Dr. Rich Fogelsong was there to watch the debate.

    "This is an uphill battle for Val Demings," said Fogelsong, because the numbers are stacked against the Democrat in District 10.

    In fact, even Barack Obama lost by 5 percentage points there, at the height of his popularity in 2008.

    Still, it is a race that has drawn the eye of political observers nationwide. That is party due to the significant sum of money raised by Demings.

    In third quarter totals released this week, Demings hauled in nearly $408,000, almost three times that of Webster.

    It has kept her in it and has experts believing Demings has a future in politics even if she loses this race, a notion she did not exactly shy away from when Eyewitness News asked her.

    "We'll see what happens after Nov. 6," said Demings.

    The Demings campaign maintains that they are in this race to win, but some experts are already looking to 2014 and the race for the Orlando mayor's office. There is speculation that current Mayor Buddy Dyer will leave to run for governor of Florida.

    Experts say Demings could be a formidable candidate in that race.

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