Thursday, December 14, 2017
Politics

Frustrated Sen. Bill Nelson has 'no plans' to challenge Gov. Rick Scott

Buzz caught up with Sen. Bill Nelson last week, talking to him about President Barack Obama's call to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp (Nelson agrees), his letter to Gov. Rick Scott urging a special session on health care (no response from Scott) and Sen. Marco Rubio's role in immigration ("I'm very proud of him").

Then came talk that Nelson is being courted for, and quietly considering, a challenge to Scott in 2014. Nelson, re-elected last year, seems against it, but also expressed frustration with Washington.

Buzz: Are you ready to emphatically state right now you are not going to run?

Nelson: Oh, come on. I've already told you: I have no plans to run for governor. I have no intention of running for governor. Why can't you accept the King's English?

Well, you know nobody does until you say "I am declaring right now I am not running for governor."

Why do I have to declare? I never declared that I was. Why do I have to declare that I'm not?

So let me just ask in plain English, we will not see you running for governor?

I've said what I said.

That leaves a little bit of wiggle room.

Well, that's because you guys need something to write about.

But you could right now say "I'm not going to run" and that will clear it up.

I have no plans to run. I have no intention to run.

I know, but that's different from saying, "I'm not going to run."

Awww, come on. Come on. Look, I'm enjoying being senator. But I must say I'm frustrated. I'm very frustrated. I mean the extremists around here. You can't get anything done. The filibuster is really being abused.

Another Graham

Charlie Crist is set to headline a May 22 fundraising reception in Tampa for Gwen Graham, the Democratic challenger to Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Panama City, in the second congressional district. Graham is the daughter of former Sen. Bob Graham. Crist will join a "Who's Who" of Tampa politicos, mostly but not all Democrats, that are hosting the event at Stacy Frank's home: Russ Alba, Sam Bell, Bob Buckhorn, Betty Castor, Kathy Castor, Alan Clendenin, Harry Cohen, Roni Costello, Jim Davis, Justin Day, Pat Frank, Sandy Freedman, Jeff Gibson, Julianne Holt, Bill Lewis, Dennis Lopez, Scott McIntyre, Don Miggs, Lisa DeBartolo, Rob Iles, Mike Paonessa, Darryl Rouson, Rob and Julie Samartin, Jeff Lieser, Ghada Skaff, Garry Smith, Mike Suarez. Sandy Thomas, Greg Truax, and Jim and Patsy Woodroffe.

Rouson's all politics

St. Petersburg Democratic Rep. Darryl Rouson is out of work at the heavy-hitting trial lawyer firm Morgan & Morgan because he needs to focus on politics right now, said John Morgan, the firm's founder.

"It's hard to be a trial lawyer if you're not in trial. It's hard to be in a Tampa courtroom if you're always in Tallahassee," Morgan said.

"I think the world of Darryl and I'd welcome him back with open arms after this," Morgan said. "He's a great lawyer. But right now, this isn't the right fit."

A major Democratic donor and Obama fundraiser, Morgan said the separation is amicable and that rumors to the contrary are false. Morgan, for instance, supports a medical-marijuana initiative. Rouson opposes it and passed a bill this session that tries to crack down on the sale of pot pipes.

Rouson is especially busy lately, as he is the House Democratic leader-designate, overseeing all state House races this cycle.

"I was very grateful for the opportunity to have been with a great firm with great lawyers. I'm nervously excited about what God has next in store," Rouson said. "There's no acrimony between me and the lawyers in the Tampa office or with John Morgan, but man I'm happy with what I'm currently doing — being leader-designate. I want to spend as much energy as I can increasing the power and the relevancy of the Democratic caucus in the Florida House."

Miami Herald staff writer Marc Caputo contributed to this week's Buzz.

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