There are many reasons that U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson isn’t running for governor of Florida: he just won a safe U.S. Senate seat, it actually won’t be an easy race against new Democrat Charlie Crist, it could harm the party more than it helps and he and his top people have told top Democrats over and over and over again that he’s not running.
The most recent case came with the Democratic Governors Association, the Washington fundraising group that, you guessed it, tries to get Democratic governors elected nationwide.
It’s betting big on Crist, giving him $500,000 last week. More is to come.
“We talked to Bill Nelson’s people. They told us he’s not running,” said a top figure who works with the DGA in Washington.
“We wouldn’t have given Crist this money if we thought Nelson was running.”
“It is my understanding that he has now ruled out running for governor due to the complexities and restraints of the campaign finance laws,” Ormond Beach insurance executive Charles Lydecker told the Tampa Tribune in March.
Before Crist hopped in the race in November, his crew thought Nelson gave them the green light. Same with Democratic candidate Nan Rich
“He told me he won’t run,” Rich said last year at the Miami-Dade Democrats meeting in Coral Gables.
So why is all this coming up again?
Because Nelson just can’t seem to stay on message about NOT running.
On Wednesday, at the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce, he was asked about whether he was considering a bid for governor and, if not, whom he supports.
“I am tempted to because I don't like the direction of Florida,” Nelson said, veering off into a discussion about Medicaid reform and high-speed rail, according to the Daytona Beach News Journal.
Nelson never said if he supported Crist or Rich.
It’s not the first time that one Bill Nelson has refuted the other Bill Nelson.
In December, he told Politico he might enter the race if Crist got in trouble (note: Crist still leads Scott in most polls and has raised about $11 million since November). Then, Bill Nelson told the Tampa Bay Times that we shouldn’t pay attention to that guy named Bill Nelson when it comes to the governor’s race.
“I made some flip remark,” Nelson said.
Question: What people should make of the statement?
Nelson: “You should disregard it.”
The same probably applies to his latest “temptation.” The ones who aren’t disregarding it are Republicans, with conservative NewsMax lapping it up. The 70-year-old career politician should know by now that, if you’re helping Republicans, you’re not helping Democrats. It’s basic political game theory.
But maybe he’ll jump in after all, despite all the private assurances and “flip” remarks.
Amid such double-talking wishy-washiness, a Nelson candidacy could mean that he'd run against three candidates in the primary: Crist, Rich and himself.