Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sen. Bill Nelson has a lot at stake without being on ballot

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson says he does not intend to run for governor.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson says he does not intend to run for governor.

WASHINGTON — Three-term U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson isn't on the ballot in November but the stakes are higher than his cakewalk 2012 re-election campaign: If Republicans take Senate control — a distinct possibility — Nelson will be denied a chance to chair the Commerce Committee.

"I think he'd do very well," retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., the current chairman, said in an interview Tuesday at the Capitol.

"I was afraid he was going to run for governor," Rockefeller said. "He went back and forth," Rockefeller says, the most direct link to talk that Nelson has considered challenging Gov. Rick Scott. "We talked a lot. And I was always lobbying him to stay here."

Asked what Nelson's argument for a gubernatorial bid was, he said: "Because he could be" governor.

"Crist is no gem," Rockefeller added.

Charlie Crist, the former Republican governor turned Democrat, is running again and has the backing of the state and national party.

Nelson, the only statewide elected Democrat in Florida, has been incredibly difficult to nail down on his plans. He remembered the conversation a bit differently.

Rockefeller "wanted me to stay," he said, "to take over the chairmanship. He's been very gracious."

When a reporter told him "the door is closed on being able to run for governor," Nelson replied that it's not, technically. "Well, at this point the week of June 16 is the qualifying. I have no intention of running."

Republicans can take the Senate by capturing six seats from Democrats in November.

Nelson ticked off vulnerable Democrats — Mark Begich in Alaska, Kay Hagan in North Carolina, Mark Pryor in Arkansas — and said he thinks they will win. But he admitted he's pondered being denied a prime opportunity to oversee the influential Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

"Of course the thought crosses my mind," he said. "I'd much rather be chairman than ranking member."

Rockefeller conceded the possibility, but noted twice as many Republicans than Democrats are up for re-election in 2016. "We'll take it right back. If they win, their true nature will come out. They so hate (Barack) Obama and then the country will throw them out again."

Contact Alex Leary at leary@tampabay.com.

Sen. Bill Nelson has a lot at stake without being on ballot 05/06/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 6, 2014 9:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Navy expected to relieve admiral in charge of 7th Fleet in response to deadly disasters at sea

    Nation

    The Navy will relieve the senior admiral in charge of the service's 7th Fleet based in Japan in response to four embarrassing accidents this year, two of which killed sailors at sea, two U.S. officials said.

    Tugboats assist the guided-missile destroyer John S. McCain on its way to Changi Naval Base in Singapore on Monday. [U.S. Navy]
  2. Trump chides media over Charlottesville

    National

    President Donald Trump is blaming the media for the widespread condemnation of his response to a Charlottesville, Va., protest organized by white supremacists that led to the killing of a counter-protester.

    Trump met service members before the rally.
  3. Jones: Koetter-Winston exchange highlights latest 'Hard Knocks'

    Bucs

    There are certain things that make HBO's Hard Knocks must-see television.

    Jameis Winston, left, has an exchange with Dirk Koetter that highlights Hard Knocks.
  4. Rays are full of ideas they'd like to share when commissioner visits

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Commissioner Rob Manfred is coming to the Trop today. Hmm. Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg will be there to greet him. Hmmmm. And they have a scheduled joint media session. Hmmmmmmmmm.

    Commissioner Rob Manfred isn’t expected to say anything definitive about the Rays’ stadium situation when he visits the team today.
  5. Mayor Rick Kriseman endorsed by another police union

    Blogs

    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman is already backed by the city's largest police union, the Suncoast Police Benevolent Association.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman has secured another police union endorsement