Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Nelson can wield power from Senate

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

Nelson would have been a strong candidate, perhaps stronger than Charlie Crist, who carries a lot of baggage as a former Republican with numerous policy shifts. So how close did Nelson come?

"I said consistently I have no plans, I have no intention," he said in an 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, citing 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, I will enthusiastically campaign for him."

Greer book reaction

In the midst of a heated campaign for governor, the reaction to The Chairman: The Rise and Betrayal of Jim Greer, has been muted for obvious reasons. Neither political party has much to gain from calling attention to the imprisoned former head of the Republican Party of Florida. Republicans want to forget a dark chapter in the GOP's history and Democrats don't want Greer's past ties to Charlie Crist to burden the likely Democratic nominee for governor.

"The people who read it seem to like it, and the people who haven't read it and who are promoting one particular candidate (Crist) seem to be less kind," said the author, St. Petersburg resident Peter Golenbock.

A book tour by Greer would be a sight, but Golenbock said that hasn't been decided.

"Basically, we're laying low until he gets out,'' he said of Greer, slated to be released in two weeks. "We don't want to do anything to upset that applecart."

Rubio rubs elbows

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio mingled with the influential Koch brothers during a retreat in California on Monday.

The gathering at St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort, near Laguna Beach, attracted top GOP donors who could be useful for Rubio if he launches a 2016 presidential bid. The event also marked the kick-off of the latest Koch political initiative: A new super PAC, Freedom Partners Action Fund, that plans to influence the midterm elections.

The new PAC is part of a broader plan to spent $290 million on elections and was viewed as a counter to liberal billionaire Tom Steyer's plan to spend $100 million to go after climate change skeptics, including Gov. Rick Scott.

On Thursday, Rubio addressed a large gathering of religious conservatives in Washington, warning of an "erosion" of values.

Rubio was one of several potential presidential candidates to appear before the Faith & Freedom Coalition, including Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Rand Paul, Govs. Chris Christie and Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum.

Rubio talked about how people are told not to smoke or gain too much weight, adding: "I have no problem with that. But we also need to tell people it's important for you to keep your family together. It's important for you to be good parents."

He seemed to make a reference to former Gov. Jeb Bush, another potential presidential candidate. "The greatest of all is to be a citizen of the one nation on Earth where the son of a bartender and a maid can have the same dreams and the same future as the son of a president or a millionaire."

Graham gets boost

The Democratic House Majority PAC announced ad reservations in competitive seats nationally, including Gwen Graham's challenge to U.S. Rep Steve Southerland, R-Panama City.

The group said it had reserved $352,000 in air time in Panama City and Tallahassee for the final weeks of November. That's on top of the $244,000 it had already allocated. House Majority PAC says it has devoted more than $12.5 million to the midterms.

Meanwhile, the National Republican Congressional Committee said it would spend $900,000 defending Southerland. The group also pledged $1.4 million targeting the seat held by Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia of Miami.

Jolly shares thoughts

Check out U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Indian Shores, on Political Connections on Bay News 9 today at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Times staff writers Steve Bousquet and Adam C. Smith contributed.

Winners of the week

Rick Scott and Charlie Crist. The men vying to become the next governor are doing just fine, new financial disclosures show. Scott's personal wealth grew to more than $130 million last year on his vast investments and Crist is now a millionaire, his income boosted after taking a job with John Morgan's law firm following an unsuccessful 2010 Senate campaign.

Loser of the week

Maria Sachs. The Democratic state senator from Delray Beach faces a rematch with former Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale. Sachs is an effective fundraiser and an incumbent, but it's the only competitive Senate race in the state, so Bogdanoff likely will have all the money she needs in a year that's looking challenging for Democrats generally.

Nelson can wield power from Senate 06/21/14 [Last modified: Saturday, June 21, 2014 9:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Car bomb kills 13, injures 24 in Baghdad; Islamic State claims responsibility


    BAGHDAD — A car bomb exploded outside a popular ice cream shop in central Baghdad just after midnight today, killing 13 people and wounding 24, hospital and police officials said.

  2. Leaping shark floors angler in Australia


    In The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway's protagonist battles for three days to pull in his prized catch. For Terry Selwood, it came a little more suddenly.

    A 9-foot shark lies on the deck of a fishing boat at Evans Head, Australia on Sunday. Fisherman Terry Selwood said he was left with a badly bruised and bleeding right arm where the shark struck him with a fin as it landed on him on the deck. [Lance Fountain via AP]
  3. Rays rally twice to beat Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Starting Erasmo Ramirez on Monday after he closed out Sunday's marathon win turned out, despite the Rays' best intentions and rigid insistence, to be a bad idea as he gave up four runs without getting through three innings.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers and comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  4. Britain investigating missed signals over Manchester bomber


    LONDON — Britain's domestic intelligence agency, MI5, is investigating its response to warnings from the public about the threat posed by Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber who killed 22 people and wounded dozens more in an attack at a crowded Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, last week.

    People gather Monday at St. Ann’s Square in Manchester, England, to view tributes to victims of the suicide bombing that killed 22 on May 22 as a concert by Ariana Grande was concluding.
  5. Trump condemns killing of pair who tried to stop racist rant


    The mayor of Portland, Ore., on Monday urged U.S. officials and organizers to cancel a "Trump Free Speech Rally" and other similar events, saying they are inappropriate and could be dangerous after two men were stabbed to death on a train as they tried to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade.

    Coco Douglas, 8, leaves a handmade sign and rocks she painted at a memorial in Portland, Ore., on Saturday for two bystanders who were stabbed to death Friday while trying to stop a man who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs and acting aggressively toward two young women. From left are Coco's brother, Desmond Douglas; her father, Christopher Douglas; and her stepmother, Angel Sauls. [Associated Press]