Last December, Florida’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson insisted that he was being flippant when he said he might leap into the state’s gubernatorial race if incumbent Rick Scott’s leading challenger, Charlie Crist, flounders.
But the 71-year-old three-term senator may have changed his position.
The Daytona Beach News-Journal
reported that he told a chamber of commerce lunch on Wednesday that he is tempted to run because he disagrees with Scott and other GOP leaders on transit and healthcare issues.
Nelson, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1990, took Scott to task for rejecting federal funds for a high-speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando and for a planned Medicaid expansion. Republican lawmakers have argued that the state would have had to put up $3.5 billion under the proposal, which would add 1.2 million residents to the program.
Nelson told the lunch that this will be at the cost of turning down $51 billion in federal money that was on offer over the next decade for the uninsured poor.
"I think it’s not only a shame," Nelson said at the Daytona Beach event. "I think it’s a moral abscess."
On several occasions, Nelson has said he has no plans to enter the race.
Last November, however, he was quoted by Politico
as saying that while he was not considering a run for the statehouse and wished Crist the best, he might change course if Crist "gets into trouble." Asked what he meant by trouble, Politico reported that he said, "That's in the eye of the beholder."
Giving credence to his comments, his chief of staff, Pete Mitchell, was said to have approached donors, saying Nelson might jump in.
However, when the Tampa Bay Times
asked Nelson about this in early December, he said, "I made some flip remark." Asked what people should make of it, Nelson said, "you should disregard it."
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