So important is it to Florida Democrats that they unseat Republican Rick Scott that some are saying the only Democrat holding statewide office, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, should take on Scott in the 2014 governor’s race.
Nelson apparently isn’t ruling it out.
In response to questions about the possibility this week, Nelson spokesman Dan McLaughlin issued a statement carefully worded to suggest Nelson isn’t pursuing the idea but isn’t rejecting it either.
“We’ve been getting lots of calls from supporters urging Sen. Nelson to consider running for governor,” McLaughlin said.
“Right now he’s just focused on doing his job in the Senate and not envisioning a circumstance under which he’d do so. Still, he remains very concerned about the state’s future.”
Advisers who confer with Nelson regularly but didn’t want to be quoted by name confirmed he has taken note of the calls from backers.
Major Democratic donors and Nelson backers differ on whether they consider it a good idea.
One argument in favor: Nelson, who just won re-election in November to his third six-year term in the Senate, wouldn’t have to leave his Senate seat to run for governor.
If he won, he would appoint a successor to serve his Senate term until the 2016 election.
The appointee then could run for election, which presents the risk that Democrats might lose the only statewide seat they now hold, Nelson’s Senate seat, plus Democratic control of the U.S. Senate.
But in 2016, a presidential election year, Democrats could expect a better turnout of their voters than in an off-year election. Hillary Clinton is being urged to lead the 2016 Democratic ticket, generating enthusiasm in the Democratic base and coattails for a Florida Senate candidate to grab.
“That could be the perfect storm for a Democratic appointee to win election,” said Ana Cruz, of Tampa, a Democratic political consultant.