Bill Nelson admits he gave “serious thought” to entering governor’s race

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In a recent interview, U.S. Sen Bill Nelson admitted he gave “serious thought” to running for Florida governor.

The Orlando Democrat told a group of Florida reporters “lot of people” approached him to challenge incumbent GOP Gov. Rick Scott, writes Ledyard King in News-Press.com..

However, he was telling reporters he had no intention of running at the time. But Nelson, a former Florida insurance commissioner, acknowledged it was hard to brush aside the “stream of pressure” he was getting from supporters. He also accused Scott and his fellow Republicans with running the state “into a ditch.”

“When people would come crying on my shoulder: ‘You’re the one that could win,’ and ‘Look at our state,’ that gripped me,” Nelson said. “I wondered what to do.”

Although he was reluctant to enter the gubernatorial race from the beginning, Bill Nelson ultimately opted to stay in Washington D.C., where he believes he can do more for Florida than in Tallahassee.

Another reason is that Democrat Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia announced he would not seek re-election this year, leaving Bill Nelson next in line as chair of the influential Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee — if Democrats can keep the Senate in the midterms. The committee has the authority over NASA, a program Nelson strongly champions.

Even if Republicans take control of the Senate, Nelson still wields influence on the committee, where he hopes to use that power to help combat climate change and stem the potentially disastrous effects described in a recent White House report that outlines the impact of global warming on his home state of Florida.

Ledyard notes that if Bill Nelson becomes chair, he will have to contend with a Republican House, one that has not moved much on environmental issues.

When asked if he could do more on that issue as governor, Nelson he would face the same challenges dealing the GOP-controlled Legislature.

Nelson balked when pressed on what he thought of the possible nomination of Republican-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist.

“I will enthusiastically support the (Democratic) nominee,” he said. “If he’s the nominee, I will enthusiastically campaign for him.”

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.