Rhetoric like this made the former Congressman an instant villain in conservative circles but also a folk hero among progressives online, who helped him raise nearly $6 million for the 2010 race, the biggest haul of any sitting House member., It wasn't enough to overcome the Republican wave, however, as well as fallout from ads against Webster in which he labeled his opponent "Taliban Dan" and strung together misleading clips to claim the Republican endorsed the subjugation of married women.
Grayson said he'd be running on an anti-war platform, calling for a US withdrawal from conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. His top domestic priority would be protecting Democrats from themselves by trying to block any deal that cut Social Security and Medicare benefits.
"I am appalled that this is even being discussed," he said. "Let's face it, [Republicans] led the country to the brink of ruin in eight years of power and now they're trying to finish the job. I think appeasement doesn't work and we need to be tough."
Although he was routed decisively in 2010, Grayson said he expected to find political conditions far more favorable in 2012 thanks to redistricting.The seat he won in 2008 and held for one term included most of Democratic enclave Orlando, where Grayson lives, but leaned Republican overall thanks to the inclusion of a number of surrounding conservative counties. Next year, however, he expects Orlando to finally be part of a Democratic-leaning district thanks to recent population growth and a 2010 ballot measure that restricts gerrymandering.
He also expects a boost from the national environment as the new Republican House majority struggles with the responsibilities of governing.
"I think the national environemnt will be different because what people now recognize is when you do give Republicans the keys to power...their only interest is tax cuts for the rich and very little else," he said. "Maybe also union busting. That's about it."