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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Bill Nelson on 2018, possible challenge from Rick Scott: I'll run 'like there's no tomorrow.'

Senator Bill Nelson stumps for Hillary Clinton at the early voting event at the Pasco-Hernando State College East Campus in Dade City on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Senator Bill Nelson stumps for Hillary Clinton at the early voting event at the Pasco-Hernando State College East Campus in Dade City on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016.

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November

Sen. Bill Nelson can't take a breather after the wild ride of 2016. The Florida Democrat faces re-election in 2018 and a possible challenge from Gov. Rick Scott.

"Whoever it is, I run my race like there's no tomorrow," Nelson said in an interview this afternoon.

Democrats, who failed to gain control of the Senate, will have to defend far more seats than Republicans. What's more, Democrats saw even more white voters leaving their side.

Nelson said that's a concern but added: "This was an unusual election, and you can't judge what's going to happen in 2018 on that. First of all, there's not going to be nearly the turnout and secondly, it's going to be in the mid-year of a Donald Trump administration. Thirdly, you're going to have a Democrat at least for the Senate, the good Lord willing, that cuts through a lot of those party circles."

Nelson said he does not have a preference for the next chair of the Florida Democratic Party. "I want a real pro and somebody who is going to shake up the whole party. The Florida Democratic Party needs to be a well-oiled machine that can organize."

As for the national chair, Nelson said that person must do the job full-time, indicating he does not support liberal Rep. Keith Ellison, "unless he resigns his membership in Congress."

On Trump, Nelson said he was "encouraged" by the Trump he saw in the 60 Minutes interview on Sunday. "I thought that he exhibited a practicality and a willingness to be much more measured."

But then came Trump's appointment of Steve Bannon to a top White House advising role. That leaves Nelson unclear which Trump will govern.

[Last modified: Wednesday, November 16, 2016 8:01am]

    

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