March 06, 2015

Bill Nelson: 'My sense is that Marco is running for president'

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio may not have officially declared a run for the White House, but his Democratic counterpart, Sen. Bill Nelson, is convinced he’ll put his hat in the ring — at least for now.

Speaking Friday afternoon in Tallahassee, Nelson had this to say about a Rubio presidential run:

“My sense is that Marco is running for president But my sense also is that about a year from now, if he doesn’t catch fire, he has the option always of stepping back into the Senate race.”

Rubio has been putting himself out there as a likely candidate, Nelson said, including customary trips to Iowa, New Hampshire and the Conservative Political Action Conference.

“Marco is really out,” Nelson said. “He’s going as hard as he can, and he’s going all over the country.”

With Rubio and Jeb Bush being heralded as likely candidates, political horserace watchers nationally have turned their eyes to Florida.

“I kid with him all the time,” Nelson said. “I’ll say, ‘Well, you and Jeb, maybe I oughta get into the race. We could make this a trifecta.’”

For what it’s worth, Nelson said that’s not in the cards. His seat is up in 2018. What’s next? He wouldn’t say other than to point out he’s continuing to raise money.

February 11, 2015

Both Florida senators back Obama war authorization against ISIS

@PatriciaMazzei

President Obama formally asked Congress Wednesday to authorize the use of military force against the Islamic State, a group also known as ISIS or ISIL. Though U.S. airstrikes have gone after the group since last summer, congressional approval would bolster the administration's legal war authority.

Both Florida senators, Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Marco Rubio, support Obama's request. 

"Any group barbaric enough to behead and burn innocent people and bring about the death of a humanitarian worker deserves to be crushed," Nelson said in a statement Wednesday morning, referring to the recently confirmed death of Kayla Mueller of Arizona.

Nelson is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee who last year filed legislation that would have authorized airstrikes against ISIS in Syria. He noted Wednesday that Obama's request has some similarities to Nelson's proposal. Obama didn't rule out ground troops, though he said they would be used in "limited circumstances." His request would expire in three years.

Rubio said on the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon that he would back even broader authorization, without limiting the president's time frame or tactics, which the senator said would be unwise given changing ground conditions. Rubio has burnished his foreign-policy credentials in the Senate, a likely campaign plank for him if he ends up running for president.

"There is a simple authorization Obama should ask for. One sentence: We authorize the president to defeat ISIL. Period," Rubio said. More than once, he noted authorization would also extend to the next president.

Rubio called it "good news" that Obama had asked Congress for approval, though he said it was belated. "I wish we had taken this group on earlier," he said.

April 25, 2014

500,000 reasons why Bill Nelson isn’t running for governor

@MarcACaputo

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.”

Continue reading "500,000 reasons why Bill Nelson isn’t running for governor" »

April 22, 2014

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson: Miami Beach ground zero for sea-level rise

@jenstaletovich

Miami Beach became ground zero for climate change Tuesday when U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson convened a rare field hearing to draw national attention to the dangers posed by rising seas.

“For those who deny sea level rise and climate change, here is the proof,” Nelson said halfway through the two-hour hearing at Miami Beach City Hall, and one of several times he pointedly called out colleagues in Congress who deny that climate change is occurring.

A half dozen witnesses, including a NASA scientist, a mayor and a county commissioner, forecast a dire future with a three-foot rise in seas by the beginning of the next century. At that rate, large swaths of Florida’s coast would be inundated, with billions of dollars in damage, even as climate change fuels more severe hurricanes. But the panel also offered hope, saying there’s still plenty of time to plan.

“It’s a slow, steady, persistent creep. But the fact that it’s slow means there’s time,” said Fred Bloetscher, an associate civil engineering professor at Florida Atlantic University who testified about potential fixes for South Florida.

More here.

April 17, 2014

In Miami, Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson renew call for U.S. sanctions against Venezuela

@PatriciaMazzei

Florida’s two senators, Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Marco Rubio, joined forces Thursday in Miami to call for stepped up attention and potential U.S. sanctions against Venezuela for repressing political protests.

They also suggested that Venezuelans should become eligible for special U.S. immigration status.

To try to persuade their colleagues, Rubio said the Senate Foreign Relations Committee plans to hold a hearing soon on the ongoing unrest, with as-yet unnamed leaders of the Venezuelan opposition invited to testify. Rubio is a committee member.

“What we want to do is build a case,” Rubio said — not only for sanctions against members of President Nicolás Maduro’s administration, but also perhaps against private Venezuelan citizens tied to the government.

That possibility has drawn particular interest in South Florida, home to the largest community of Venezuelans outside their country, including some rumored Maduro allies. Miami and Orlando remain frequent destinations for Venezuelan tourists, among them government officials.

More here.

February 21, 2014

UPDATE: For third time, Bill Nelson asks feds to investigate DEO

@mikevansickler

If one goes by the daily updates by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the problems plaguing CONNECT, Florida's $63 million unemployment benefits website, are mostly solved. The agency is reporting that it has fewer than 10,000 6,000 cases where claimaints have waited longer than a week, a drastic reduction from a caseload of more than 60,000 last month.

Of course, how much of that is due to repairs with CONNECT? Remember, the DEO hired 250 extra staffers to review these cases, at a cost of $165,000 a week, plus another $300,000 to lease space for the additional personnel. The DEO can't say because it can't rely on the accuracy of indicators from Deloitte about CONNECT's performance. 

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, who has twice already asked federal officials to intervene, remains unconvinced progress has been made. On Friday, he asked the U.S. Department of Labor's Inspector General to investigate for "possible waste, fraud or abuse stemming from the launch of a system that reportedly would result in unemployment insurance claims not being processed in a manner consistent with provisions in federal law requiring prompt payment to eligible individuals."

Here's the release: 

 

Continue reading "UPDATE: For third time, Bill Nelson asks feds to investigate DEO" »

February 05, 2014

Congressional Democrats blast Rick Scott for turning back on Medicaid expansion

@tbtia

Gov. Rick Scott made national headlines and disappointed his tea party base last year when he expressed support for using federal Medicaid expansion dollars to help uninsured Floridians get coverage. He supported the plan created by Senate Republicans to use the $51 billion in federal funding, but it was blocked by House Republicans at the end of the 2013 session.

At the time, Democrats criticized Scott for not doing more to back the Senate plan. Since then, it's gotten even worse with the governor refusing to say flat out whether he still supports Medicaid expansion and returning to old talking points criticizing the federal health care overhaul.

Recently, Scott's 2014-2015 budget proposal was silent on the Medicaid expansion issue although there are bills filed in the House and Senate to ressurrect last year's failed plan.

The governor's refusal to address Medicaid expansion has angered congressional Democrats who wrote a letter to express "extreme disappointment" that the subject was not discussed during his budget presentation last week.

"Governor, last year you said your conscience wouldn't allow you to stand in the way of an expansion," they wrote. "We hope your conscience now will compel you to at least ask legislators to find a way to get this done."

The letter is signed by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and U.S. representatives Kathy Castor, Patrick Murphy, Joe Garcia, Corrine Brown, Alan Grayson, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Ted Deutch, Alcee Hastings, Frederica Wilson and Lois Frankel.

Click here to download the letter from congressional Democrats to Scott on Medicaid expansion.

December 18, 2013

Poll: Charlie Crist would wallop Bill Nelson by 13, matches up better v. Rick Scott

@MarcACaputo

Despite being a former Republican, Charlie Crist’s standing in his new party is so strong that he could wallop longtime Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson by 13 percentage points in a theoretical primary for governor, a new poll shows.

The survey, conducted by Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s pollster, also indicates Crist is still formidable in a general election and leads the incumbent by 4 percentage points among likely voters.

Scott fares better against Nelson, who has a mere 2-point lead over the Republican in a general election matchup, according to the poll of 1,000 likely voters conducted last month by Fabrizio McLaughlin & Associates.

Continue reading "Poll: Charlie Crist would wallop Bill Nelson by 13, matches up better v. Rick Scott" »

December 03, 2013

Bill Nelson refutes Bill Nelson over new run-for-governor talk: "disregard it."

@MarcACaputo

If Sen. Bill Nelson hadn't repeatedly said that he really didn't want to run for governor, then maybe it would have been more believable that he really planned to campaign for the post.

And if all of the risks and problems associated with Nelson running for governor didn't exist (as detailed here), then maybe it would have been more believable that he planned to run for the post.

But Nelson clearly kept the door open a crack. Some advocates tried to blow the door of the hinges. And then Nelson did himself no favors by helping fuel the rumors when he told Politico he would basically hop in the race if Charlie Crist got in trouble.

Now Nelson is basically saying what he always said: never mind.

From the Tampa Bay Times:

Asked about the gets-into-trouble remark on Tuesday, Nelson said he had just had a procedure done on his left knee, was on crutches and was trying to get on an escalator when a reporter approached him with a question about the governor's race and stuck an audio recorder or smart phone "in my face."

"I made some flip remark," he said. Asked what people should make of it, Nelson said, "you should disregard it."

When asked during an earlier news conference whether he's running for governor, Nelson said, "I have no plans to run for governor. I have no intention of running for governor. I have my hands full as senator."

November 19, 2013

How Sen. Bill Nelson might be better known as a country singer, sans pizzazz

@MarcACaputo

Sen. Bill Nelson isn't quieting talk from supporters that the Democrat might run for governor, which carries risks for his party as well as new Democrat and current candidate Charlie Crist.

The reasons for all that are outlined in Monday's column. The Sun-Sentinel's Gary Stein adds a new issue: Nelson isn't so well-known and he's boring to some, according to this column "Does Bill Nelson have the pizzazz to run for governor?"

"Here’s something that will surely get everybody in Florida excited.

"Bill Nelson might run for the Democratic nomination for governor.

"Half of you might be saying 'Who is Bill Nelson?'

The other half are saying  “Is he the country western singer?"

Column here

***Blog note: The original post had a messed-up headline and, in trying to unmess it, I deleted the original post.