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Bill Nelson Under the Radar Once More as He Readies to Run Again

September 4, 2015 - 1:45pm
Bill Nelson
Bill Nelson

Plenty of senators in recent years called it quits when they were in their mid to late 70s. Not Bill Nelson as all signs indicate he will run for a fourth term in 2018. Nelson signaled once again at the end of August that he will run for a fourth term. In 2018, Nelson will be 76 but he shows no signs of slowing down. 

Republicans think they have a good shot at taking Nelson on and Rick Scott seems raring to go. Tom Rooney has also thrown his name into the mix but he is also starting to get some notice as a possible attorney general candidate in 2018. Rooney has his strengths, to be sure, but Scott is far better known, can obviously finance another campaign if he wants, and most Republicans like the governor. Scott’s approval stands in the low- to mid-70s with Republicans and that, along with the money chase, should make Rooney think twice about taking on the governor in the primary. 

Nelson, though, is not an easy target. Republicans had a good shot in 2012 at taking Nelson out but he wiped the floor with Connie Mack. Off-year elections generally help Republicans in Florida but there are plenty of voters, especially in the northern and rural parts of the state, who will split the tickets, voting Republican for most offices while still casting ballots for Nelson in the Senate race. 

Still, Nelson has to reintroduce himself to plenty of voters. This seems to happen every six years. Nelson has been a political force in Florida for decades but he keeps such a low profile in Washington that a large segment -- often between a quarter to a third -- of voters aren’t sure what they think about him. 

In the meantime, Nelson can be a reliable vote for the Democrats in the Senate. That was clear when he lined up behind Barack Obama’s agreement with Iran. Nelson hopes voters will forget all about it in three years, much like they did his vote in support of Obamacare. 

Nelson is lucky in one respect: he’s never the main story in Florida politics. Nelson’s race against Bill McCollum was something of an afterthought to Bush vs. Gore. Six years later, Nelson was expected to blow out Katherine Harris while all eyes were on the gubernatorial race. In 2012, after Mack struggled, Nelson stayed out of the spotlight while everyone wondered if Florida would go for Obama again or break for Mitt Romney. 

Once again, Nelson could get lucky in 2018. Scott’s term-limited and plenty of politicians are looking at becoming governor. More eyes will be there than on the Senate race even if Nelson takes on Scott in a clash of the titans. 


Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis piece exclusively for Sunshine State News. 


IF Scott were to even attempt to run against Nelson, FDLE would be investigating the political murder of Scott. Even in his 70's, Nelson can outrun Scott 2 to 1!

Do you think Scott goes for Senate? He seems very unpopular still, although being very unpopular but registered with the correct political party might be enough to win in low turnout elections in Florida in a hyper-partisan environment. Does 2018 stay hyper-partisan, or does it calm down. I get the sense Republicans want to move past Gov. Scott and go for someone else.

Oh goody !... We'll get to hear, one more time, how "Do-nothing Nelson" was allowed a "ride along" on a rocket spaceship after a monkey first proved it was safe. I hope he wins so I can receive more election-time "boilerplate" missives saying NOTHING and replete with self-praise comments. For over ten years I've been trying to contact this "space monkey" recluse with absolutely no success (but then, what can I, a Plebeian member of the low class electorate, expect from a reclusive Senator???...After all I am not a Lobbiest nor am I a politician or bureaucrat). It's time to retire this useless pettifogger Florida,...WAKE UP and vote in a real "Statesman" to represent us .....

i like bill nelson but i like customers who pay their invoices also

Senator Nelson seems like a great guy, but we need younger politicians with new fresh ideas. I bet DWS also hopes that voters will forget she backed the Iran deal. Another reason for term limits.

Bill Nelson Obama's ass licKer.

Bill Nelson has looked after the interests of Florida his entire career. If he wants to stay in the Senate, he will easily win re-election. A low media profile does not mean a lack of influence or respect from his peers or constituents. There are just enough moderate Republicans who recognize his contributions and will, indeed, ticket-split for him.

Billy Bishop speaks ! (Well quite possibly Nelson will seek a paying affiliation with a Lobby so you can continue to listen to his "space monkey ride-along stories Billy... But don't expect much actual work...))

Nelson is way too old to be effective in congress. The age limit should be that the politician should not have reached his (her) 66th birthday when their term is completed. Coupled with term limits of 1 for senators and 3 for representatives, with zero pension eliminating continuing perks and benefits, halving the congressional staffs, all would be a good start towards sanitizing the government in Washington DC.

Isn't this the same Bill Nelson that signed the United Nation agreement circumventing our 2nd Amendment confiscating all guns in the US?? Bye bye Billie

If HRC is @ 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue by Election Day 2018 (and also extremely unpopular at that time), Nelson's luck may well run out. However, if "Don Juan!" the Bloviating Blowhard - or any other R - is in his first term by then, Below-the-Radar, Mister "Never the Main Story" is likely assured of yet another six-year term, on his way to approaching the longevity of Edward Kennedy, Robert Byrd, and Daniel Inouye, in a way more complex and diverse state!

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