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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

How close did Bill Nelson come to running for governor?



The end of qualifying week in Florida officially closes out any chance Sen. Bill Nelson would run for governor. He never said he would but he always left wiggle room and people around him were exploring the possibility in more than a casual way.

He would have been a strong candidate, perhaps stronger than Charlie Crist, who carries a lot of baggage. So how close did Nelson come?

“I said consistently I have no plans, I have no intention,” he told the Tampa Bay Times in a recent interview. “But when people would come crying on my shoulder, “You’re the one who can win … look at our state.’ Sure, that gripped me.”

“Florida has been run into a ditch and I’ll give you two good examples that make me squirm as to whether or not I could make a difference were I to have decided to run,” he added, naming the state’s refusal to expand Medicaid under Obamacare and the threat of rising sea levels and climate change.

Still, Nelson concluded he could address those issues from the Commerce Committee, the expansive panel he will chair if Democrats hold the Senate in November.

“The Commerce Committee is the biggest kept secret up here. Its jurisdiction is so broad - telecommunications, all science, transportation safety. Aviation. The space program. The Coast Guard. … What I concluded was it was better for me to stay here.”

Nelson said he’ll support the Democratic nominee but will not take a side as Crist faces longshot primary challenger Nan Rich.

“If he’s the nominee,” he said, “I will enthusiastically campaign for him.”

[Last modified: Friday, June 20, 2014 4:41pm]


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