Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Politics

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

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 [email protected]

Comments
Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis stepped into a growing controversy over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, criticizing the separation of migrant families at the U.S.-Mexican border and saying that "populism" and "creating psychosis" are not t...
Updated: 24 minutes ago
Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

At this moment, she is Tampa Bay’s most influential export. A smart, accomplished and powerful attorney making life-altering decisions on an international stage.But what of tomorrow? And the day after?When the story of President Donald Trump’s border...
Published: 06/19/18
‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

SEATTLE — The call came at mealtime — an anonymous threat demanding $5,000 or her son’s life. So Blanca Orantes-Lopez, her 8-year-old boy and his father packed up and left the Pacific surfing town of Puerto La Libertad in El Salvador and headed for t...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

WASHINGTON - As he prepared to visit Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump on Tuesday continued to insist that Congress produce comprehensive immigration legislation, while anxious Republicans explored a narrower fix to the administration policy of se...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Calls are mounting on Capitol Hill for the Trump administration to end the separation of families at the southern border ahead of a visit from President Donald Trump to discuss legislation.Trump’s meeting late Tuesday afternoon with...
Published: 06/19/18
Another detention center for immigrant children planned for Houston

Another detention center for immigrant children planned for Houston

Another facility intended for detaining undocumented children is reportedly in the works for Houston as the number of children separated from their parents at the border continues to swell.Southwest Key Programs, the same contractor that operates the...
Published: 06/19/18
Muralist working with huge St. Pete ‘canvas’ to create neighborhood eye-grabber

Muralist working with huge St. Pete ‘canvas’ to create neighborhood eye-grabber

ST. PETERSBURG — They appear to rise out of nowhere — two enormous, reclaimed-water tanks with an artist’s white clouds scudding across a blue background.A closer view reveals silhouettes of a lone coyote howling at the sky, mangrove islands, oak, cy...
Published: 06/19/18
FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says he’s willing to testify before Congress

FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says he’s willing to testify before Congress

The FBI agent who was removed from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election for sending anti-Trump texts intends to testify before the House Judiciary Committee and any other congressional committee that asks, his attorney sai...
Published: 06/17/18
Erosion of immigrant protections began with Trump inaugural

Erosion of immigrant protections began with Trump inaugural

The Trump administration’s move to separate immigrant parents from their children on the U.S.-Mexico border has grabbed attention around the world, drawn scorn from human-rights organizations and overtaken the immigration debate in Congress.It’s also...
Published: 06/17/18

Pasco Political Notebook

Perenich to ‘Walk the District’Stephen Perenich, Democratic candidate for U.S. House of Representatives, Florida District 12, will be "Walking the District" June 25-29. Perenich will be walking 55 miles in five days, starting in Dade City and heading...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/18/18