As he considers taking on U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., in 2018, on Monday, U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., took aim at that Democrat’s opposition to President Donald Trump nominating Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court.
After Nelson announced he would vote against the nomination, Rooney took aim at Florida’s senior senator.
“Today, Florida Senator Bill Nelson stated that he will vote no on Judge Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation,” Rooney said. “I am extremely disappointed, though utterly unsurprised, that Senator Nelson would put political posturing above the needs of the American people. Ten years ago, not a single Democratic Senator opposed Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, including Senator Nelson. Nelson has not provided any substantive concerns or misgivings as to why he supported Gorsuch in the past but will not vote to confirm now.”
Rooney ramped up his criticism of Nelson and urged Florida voters to stand against him in 2018 when he can run for a fourth term.
“Nelson is hypocritically putting his own wants and needs above objectively considering a judge who has shown nothing but full capability to serve on the Supreme Court,” Rooney said. “He should be ashamed of himself and I hope Florida voters replace him next year in the 2018 election. Unfortunately because of the actions of Senators like Bill Nelson who are threatening a filibuster for a capable jurist, Republicans may be forced to exercise the nuclear option.”
With Trump carrying Florida in November, Nelson is a top Republican target in 2018. Rooney has garnered buzz as a possible Senate candidate but Gov. Rick Scott is also considered a likely contender for the Republican nomination.
Last week, St. Leo University released a poll showing Scott with a clear lead with Florida Republicans. Scott takes 45 percent of Florida Republicans while a quarter of them--26 percent--are undecided. Rooney pulls 10 percent while 7 percent back U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis who briefly ran for the Senate last year before U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio decided to run for another term. Two other Republicans who pulled out of the Senate race when Rubio announced he would run again were also included in the poll. Former U.S. Rep. David Jolly, who was unseated in November by former Gov. Charlie Crist, takes 5 percent while Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera gets 1 percent. Seven percent of Florida Republicans are for other candidates.
Frank Orlando, the director of the Saint Leo University Polling Institute, said Scott was in good shape to win the Republican nomination.
“Rick Scott starts off as the strong favorite to win the GOP nomination but it’s important to remember that Charlie Crist was once considered a shoe-in for the Republican nod in 2010,” Orlando said.
“Scott’s lead right now relies mainly on a name ID advantage, but the better the state is doing the better position he’ll be in,” Orlando continued.