How Bill Nelson’s re-election bid mirrors Barack Obama’s

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The current political situations, and possibly the ultimate fates, facing President Obama and Florida US Sen. Bill Nelson are startlingly similar. Obama has mediocre approval ratings in the polls; so does Nelson. But Obama leads all comers the Republicans have provided; so does Nelson. And on the GOP side, just as many top Republicans are looking for an alternative to the Romney/Bachmann/Perry trio, so too are some top Sunshine Staters looking for an alternative to their current crop of not-so-strong US Senate wannabes.

State Senate President Mike Haridopolos, who dropped out of the Senate race, recently opined in a speech that none of the current crop of Republican senate candidates could defeat Nelson. “It is going to take a Jeb Bush or an Allen West.” Referring to West, Haridopolos said, “The guy is a political rock star.” Bush has publicly declined interest in the race and, according to insiders, isn’t likely to change his mind.

“I’m not certain the field is set,” says Kirk Fordham, the CEO of the Everglades Foundation and a former chief of staff to former US Rep. Mark Foley (R).  “There are plenty of millionaires in Florida with lots of time on their hands.”

An experienced GOP professional takes a similar view, observing that the contest for the Republican nomination “is as clear as mud right now… None of them really have a base or are operating from a position of strength.”

Some clarity in the race may come on September 23 when the American Conservative Union (ACU) will hold a straw poll in Orlando at its regional Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC FL). The contest will feature the Republican US Senate contenders, although the ballot has not yet been finalized. The voting will be open to all registrants at the CPAC conference. Influential Florida Republican Al Cardenas, ACU’s chairman, said in a release that “using the same forum that introduced Marco Rubio to the national scene, we hope to highlight conservative Florida leaders, who are standing strongly in opposition to the shared liberal agenda of President Barack Obama and Senator Bill Nelson.”

Continue reading Hastings Wyman analysis here.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.