Bill Nelson Archives - Florida Politics

‘Nelson? … Nelson?’ Rick Scott calls out Bill Nelson’s absences in new ad

Gov. Rick Scott is out with a new ad, essentially accusing his Democratic opponent for U.S. Senate — incumbent Bill Nelson — of pulling a ‘Ferris Bueller‘ during his time in Washington.

The ad, titled “Empty Chair,” highlights Nelson’s numerous missed Senate Armed Services Committee meetings during his time in the U.S. Senate, and once again bashes Nelson for his lengthy political career.

“Bill Nelson’s been running for office in Florida since 1972,” the ad’s narrator begins.

“Can you name one thing he’s done? I’ll keep waiting.

“Bill Nelson votes his party line 89 percent of the time, and that’s when he bothers to show up at all. Nelson skipped 45 percent of the hearings on national security. National security!

“Bill Nelson doesn’t write laws; he doesn’t even show up. Bill Nelson’s chair is empty. Even when he’s in it.”

Ryan Brown, a spokesperson from the Nelson campaign, issued a statement bashing Scott over the ad’s claims.

“This is nothing more than another false attack by Rick Scott who is nothing more than a phony politician,” Brown said.

He added Nelson had “attended about 80 percent of the Armed Services meetings this year and 86 percent last year. This isn’t an ad, it’s propaganda – and it’s another reason why you just can’t trust Rick Scott.”

The ad’s release comes as Scott is embarking on a bus tour to push his “Make Washington Work” 10-point plan. That tour has seen some hiccups as Gov. Scott has faced criticism over his handling of the red tide issue.

The race between Scott and Nelson

RealClearPolitics currently gives Scott a lead of less than two percentage points, according to an aggregation of available polling. FiveThirtyEight sees Nelson as the slight favorite, projecting him to win by just over one percentage point.

Rick Scott laments ‘slick Washington trick’ derailing Brett Kavanaugh confirmation

The Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh appears increasingly imperiled Tuesday, in the wake of allegations of sexual assault against him.

The judge was accused of sexually assaulting Christine Blasey Ford three decades ago at a party.

Gov. Rick Scott, running for Senate this year, weighed in — saying that while the allegations are “very serious,” a “slick Washington trick” from Sen. Dianne Feinstein obscured the allegations during the hearings thus far.

“The Judiciary Committee needs to seek the truth here. Truth is not partisan, and truth is more important than politics,” Scott said.

“These very serious allegations should have been investigated months ago. But Democrat Senator Feinstein pulled a slick Washington trick and intentionally hid this from the Senate during the hearings. Dr. Ford must receive a fair hearing; her allegations are very serious. And Judge Kavanaugh deserves to have the chance to clear his name,” Scott added.

Scott couldn’t resist tweaking his opponent, Sen. Bill Nelson, noting “someone must have told Senator Nelson to start doing his job now, and he is finally saying he’s interested in meeting with the Judge.”

Prior to the allegations against Kavanaugh becoming a matter of public record, Scott extolled the nominee.

“I have taken the time to learn about Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s record and it is clear he has the experience and objectivity to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court,” Scott said earlier this month. “Judge Kavanaugh has the highest possible rating from the American Bar Association and will work to uphold our Constitution – not legislate from the bench.

“Unfortunately, Bill Nelson has failed to do his job, pledging to vote against the nominee without knowing who it was and refusing to even meet with Judge Kavanaugh – choosing instead to ask rhetorical questions to reporters when he could have reviewed the judge’s record face to face,” Scott added.

Before that, on Aug. 20, Scott’s camp released a statewide ad, “Fair Hearing,” which dinged Nelson for not meeting with Kavanaugh.

For his part, Sen. Nelson contends he has tried four times to meet with Kavanaugh (Aug. 13 and 27; Sep. 10 and 13), and that Kavanaugh and his accuser should appear in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

As of this writing, they are slated to testify to the committee Monday.

Progressive group pledges support for Bill Nelson, Lauren Baer

The Progressive Turnout Project (PTP), a Chicago-based group aimed at helping elect Democratic candidates, says it will put money toward digital get-out-the-vote efforts supporting the campaigns of Bill Nelson and Lauren Baer.

The group has raised nearly $14 million this election cycle according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Now, PTP says it will contribute $1.8 million of that to get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts, which will help a total of 31 candidates nationwide.

Alex Morgan, the organization’s executive director, says they believe they can make an impact in what could be a pair of close races.

“Our GOTV experiments have proven that a robust digital program can boost Democratic turnout by at least two percent in even the noisiest political environments,” Morgan said.

“While the bulk of our work is done door-to-door, we recognize that we’re not going to be able to have a face-to-face conversations with every voter and that’s why we’re making this significant investment in digital GOTV to take back the House and Senate.”

PTP says this increased funding will focus on Florida’s 18th Congressional District, where Baer is attempting to unseat incumbent GOP U.S. Rep. Brian Mast.

Analysts currently see Mast as the favorite, though by different margins.

Nelson, who is defending his seat against outgoing Republican Gov. Rick Scott, appears to be headed for an incredibly close contest.

RealClearPolitics currently gives Scott a lead of less than two percentage points, according to an aggregation of available polling. FiveThirtyEight sees Nelson as the slight favorite, projecting him to win by just over one percentage point.

Bill Nelson ‘died three years ago,’ Roger Stone quips to Palm Beach Trump supporters

Longtime Donald Trump ally Roger Stone was his usual self in remarks to Trump Club 45 PBC Monday night, spouting several attention-grabbing comments to the audience of Trump die-hards.

Stone dropped several eyebrow-raising one-liners (mostly in jest) during his speech at the Palm Beach Kennel Club, one of which concerning a prominent Florida contest.

“You have a U.S. Senate race between Gov. Rick Scott and Bill Nelson,” Stone started. “Bill Nelson died three years ago. Somebody forgot to tell him about it.”

As for Stone’s famous tattoo of Richard Nixon on his back: “I’m the only guy you know that has a dick on the front and the back.”

In addition to punchlines, Stone offered the Trump-loving crowd plenty of red meat.

First, there was media bashing: “I don’t get my news from CNN for the same reason I don’t eat out of the toilet.”

Next, about The New York Times, Stone harped on the fact that the paper’s top shareholder is Carlos Slim, the Mexican billionaire who made hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to the Clintons.

“Why would we believe a single word that is printed in The New York Times?” Stone charged.

He then moved into the realm of the conspiratorial. On the recent anonymous op-ed printed by the Times, Stone argued it was all a fabrication.

“Folks, I can tell you right now who wrote that editorial. No one. It’s a fraud. It’s a MacGuffin. It’s a con job on the American people.”

He once again called into question whether Russia even hacked the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election.

“There’s more forensic evidence that would indicate that the DNC was never hacked at all by anyone.”

Stone also touched upon the recent abuse allegations lobbied against Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Stone framed the “dastardly accusations” as a “smear” against Kavanaugh, shredding the media for even reporting on them given the lack of a corroborating witness.

Stone, rumored to be a potential target of the Robert Mueller investigation, further elaborated on his current legal situation.

While describing claims of any sort of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign utter “bullshit,” Stone maintained: “I will never roll on Donald Trump. Michael Cohen, I am not.”

Toward the end of his remarks, Stone injected a minutes-long pitch for his legal defense fund.

“Everything you can send will be a godsend. This threatens to bankrupt my family. They have systematically attempted to ruin my business.”

Stone saved some of his most fiery comments for Republicans 2018 midterms strategy. He parroted the notion that the real wrongdoing of the 2016 election was the Barack Obama administration’s investigation into Russian collusion, rather than any potential collusion itself.

Midterm voters need reminding of that fact, Stone said, calling for some high-profile arrests.

“We need to expose the constitutional abuses, far worse than Watergate, of the administration of Barack Obama. And we have to demand the prosecution of Bill and Hillary Clinton.”

Of course, that elicited chants of “lock her up” from the audience, with one member suggesting Hillary be sent “to Guantánamo.”

With a closing shot, Stone clarified there’s no love lost between him and the Clintons.

“Bill and Hillary Clinton are the penicillin-resistant syphilis of the American body politic.”

Bill Nelson wants ‘investigation’ of sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh

The Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh appears increasingly imperiled Monday, in the wake of allegations of sexual assault against him.

Sen. Bill Nelson on Monday joined a bipartisan consensus that the allegations need to be investigated.

Republicans, including Sens. Jeff Flake and Susan Collins, have made similar calls, effectively putting the push for a vote in Judiciary Thursday on pause.

Even Pres. Donald Trump seemed reconciled to the reality.

“If it takes a little delay, it’ll take a little delay,” Trump said Monday, advocating for a “full process” to White House reporters.

Kavanaugh denies that he committed sexual assault: “This is a completely false allegation. I have never done anything like what the accuser describes — to her or to anyone. Because this never happened, I had no idea who was making this accusation until she identified herself yesterday.”

Sen. Nelson had been harangued by Republican operatives for not committing to a position on Kavanaugh. The campaign of his general election opponent, Gov. Rick Scott, likewise put the pressure on.

“I have taken the time to learn about Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s record and it is clear he has the experience and objectivity to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court,” Scott said earlier this month. “Judge Kavanaugh has the highest possible rating from the American Bar Association and will work to uphold our Constitution – not legislate from the bench.

“Unfortunately, Bill Nelson has failed to do his job, pledging to vote against the nominee without knowing who it was and refusing to even meet with Judge Kavanaugh – choosing instead to ask rhetorical questions to reporters when he could have reviewed the judge’s record face to face,” Scott added.

Before that, onn Aug. 20, Scott’s camp released a statewide ad, “Fair Hearing,” which dinged Nelson for not meeting with Kavanaugh.

Two debates planned between Ron DeSantis, Andrew Gillum

The gubernatorial nominees have agreed to two debates ahead of Election Day.

Republican nominee Ron DeSantis accepted a Leadership Florida debate and CNN town hall on Monday, a few days after Democrat Andrew Gillum said he also would attend the forums. 

The Leadership Florida debate, according to the Gillum campaign, will take place Oct. 24 at Broward College. The CNN debate will be in Tampa, but the date is not yet set. 

DeSantis, in accepting debate invitations, opened the door for three more: Fox News, CBS Miami with Jim DeFede and Telemundo in Orlando.

“I’ll debate [Andrew Gillum] whenever possible—because his high-tax, far-left policies would be a disaster for Florida,” DeSantis tweeted.

But DeSantis left unanswered a third forum Gillum accepted: Univision 23 in Miami.

That sort of silence has proved to be fodder for both parties in multiple races.

The Gillum campaign and the Florida Democratic Party spent the weekend hammering DeSantis for not having immediately accepted the same debates that Gillum accepted on Saturday. 

When the Gillum campaign announced on Sunday that the Tallahassee mayor also would attend a CNN town hall, campaign adviser Scott Arceneaux said: “DeSantis is refusing to accept any debates because he has no real plans for moving Florida forward.”

A spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party in a statement earlier on Monday said: “In a major break with tradition, Ron DeSantis is refusing to debate Andrew Gillum.”

But now, there are three pending forums the Gillum campaign must answer to. As of publishing, Gillum’s team has yet to indicate whether it will attend the additional debates DeSantis announced earlier on Monday.

“Florida voters deserve to hear from both Mayor Gillum and Congressman DeSantis about their plans for the Sunshine State, and we’re proud to move forward accordingly,” said Geoff Burgan, Gillum’s communications director.

Meanwhile, in the U.S. Senate race the Republican candidate has made a campaign issue of incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson’s delay of response to live forums.

Per Republican challenger Rick Scott’s count, he’s accepted four debates ahead of Nov. 6.

Nelson’s RSVP’d to just one.

In a dig at the sitting senator, Scott suggested on Twitter earlier on Monday that Nelson accept more debates.

Pulse survivors back Bill Nelson, demand gun control

A group of survivors of the 2016 Pulse massacre and family of those killed in the attack have endorsed U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s re-election bid.

“There is only one person in this race who cares about us, and that’s Bill Nelson,” said Brandon Wolf, who survived the mass shooting.

Carlos Guillermo Smith

Nelson right now faces a tough re-election challenge from Republican Rick Scott, two-term Governor of the state. Polls show the race consistently close.

Nelson and Scott both went to the scene of Pulse the day of the shooting and remained involved in the response. However, Wolf criticized the Governor for failing to listen to Pulse survivors regarding gun control.

“Just like he has so many times before, Governor Scott turned his back on us,” Wolf said.

Scott mentioned the Pulse shooting in his State of the State address after the attack but angered some survivors by refusing to say victims were gay or LGBT.

That came up in Wolf’s endorsement Saturday. “I’m sorry we were too gay for you,” he said rhetorically to Scott. “I’m sorry we were too brown for you.”

The endorsement comes on the heels of some parents of children killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, led by Fred Guttenberg, also endorsing Nelson. Guttenberg attended Saturday’s news conference with Pulse survivors.

A rash of mass shootings in recent years made Florida a poster child for debate about the nation’s gun laws after years of heavy influence from the National Rifle Association on policy here. A number of those directly affected by the tragedy, including Wolf and Guttenberg, became nationally recognized voices on the issue.

State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Attorney General candidate Sean Shaw attended the Saturday press conference with Pulse victims as well. Smith, a gay Latino lawmaker from Orlando who has advocated for the Pulse community since the attack, held Scott responsible for continued failures on passing gun reforms.

“After Pulse, we grieved and stood with families to demand action. Now we’re joined by Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jamie was taken at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Who’s next?,” Smith wrote on Facebook. “We cannot afford another NRA-sellout like Rick Scott in the US Senate.”

The Pulse shooting took place in the early hours of June 12, 2016, when a gunman swearing allegiance to the Islamic State started shooting people in the Orlando gay bar with a legally purchased Sig Sauer MCX. Ultimately, 49 people died in addition to the gunman, who was killed by police.

Wolf had been at the club with friends Christopher “Drew” Leinonen and Juan Guerrero, both of whom died in the attack.

Leinonen’s mother, Christine Leinonen, also endorsed Nelson on Saturday.

The grieving mother said lawmakers like Nelson would enact common-sense gun laws to prevent further attacks.

“This is preventable,” she said, according to NBC 2 WESH. “And it’s preventable by electing strong Democrats.”

Leinonen spoke at the Democratic National Convention in 2016 after her son’s death. She also attended Senate debates that year after endorsing Democratic Senate candidate Patrick Murphy.

Wolf after the shooting became vice president of LGBT advocacy group The Dru Project, a nonprofit named in Drew Leinonen’s memory.

Jeb Bush: Bill Nelson ‘will always vote for more taxes’

Former Gov. Jeb Bush hit the campaign trail this weekend and leveled heavy criticism at U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, saying the Democrat voted “for every liberal idea” when party leadership asked.

Bush stumped Saturday on behalf of one of his successors, Gov. Rick Scott, the Republican nominee challenging Nelson’s re-election this year. And while Bush’s governorship overlapped with Nelson’s first term, Bush did not express much nostalgia from the podium.

“With all due respect to the current incumbent, the United States senator, what has he done?” Bush asked. “I’ve been waiting. I can’t think of anything. He must have done something.”

Then he answered his own question.

“Yes he has,” Bush said. “He has voted for every liberal idea that has made it harder for us to progress as a nation.”

Bush said Nelson sometimes would hedge and “dance” on hard or unpopular decisions during his three terms in the Senate but always buckled when pressured from the left.

“When he is forced to by the leadership of his party, he will always vote for more taxes, more regulation, more government, a weaker national defense.”

That led into a full-throated endorsement for Scott.

Bush rode on Scott’s bus tour, making stops along the way in Miami and optimistically referencing the South Florida region as Scott country on Twitter.

He also showed himself on Scott’s campaign bus with Republican U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and former U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, members of another South Florida political family.

The event came a day after former President George W. Bush, Jeb’s older brother, appeared at a Tampa fundraiser supporting Scott, according to News Channel 8 WFLA.

Of note, Jeb Bush did not originally back Scott’s ambitions when the Naples executive first ran for governor, instead preferring then-Attorney General Bill McCollum. Of course, the governor quickly backed Scott after his surprise primary win in 2010.

Scott has remained a figure with an outsider mythos, becoming an ally of President Donald Trump, while the Bushes remain the mascots of the establishment (and not such allies of Trump).

But Bush’s arrival on the campaign trail for Scott shows that in the Senate race the sometimes disparate factions of the GOP share an enthusiasm for the current governor’s Senate ambitions.

Incidentally, Bush himself rebuffed efforts to recruit him to a Senate race after his time in Tallahassee drew to a close. He rebuffed calls to run in 2010.

Candidates campaign, canvass across Sunshine State

Campaign season stops for no weekend. Candidates for the state’s biggest offices continue to greet voters around Florida. Will one be near you today?

Gov. Rick Scott, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, will ride his statewide “Make Washington Work” bus tour into Hialeah today and will hold a rally at Gus Machado Ford Dealership at 1:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, supporters in Miami will canvas for incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. The canvass kicks off in Orange Grove and runs from 9 a.m. to noon. Supporters will push for Nelson’s re-election and for other Democrats appearing on the ballot in November.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis launches a heavy day of campaigning today with stops in Casselberry, Orlando and Vero Beach, attending numerous county events and also benefits for veterans and first responders.

Democrat Andrew Gillum’s campaign is promoting about three dozen canvassing events throughout the state, from his home base in Tallahassee to his home region of South Florida.

Republican Agriculture Commission candidate Matt Caldwell will swing through Jacksonville today on a search for votes. He’ll stop by the Republican Party of Florida headquarters on San Jose Boulevard for a candidate meet-and-greet at 10 a.m.

Check back on this post as more candidates announce events this weekend.

Fred Guttenberg endorses Bill Nelson for Senate

Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter, Jaime, was killed seven months ago in the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School, and other parents who lost children in the tragedy endorsed incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson at an event Friday afternoon.

Guttenberg also laid into Nelson’s Republican opponent, Gov. Rick Scott.

“In Florida, under Rick Scott, nothing was done on guns or school safety after prior incidents like Pulse or the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting,” Guttenberg said. “Perhaps, had more been done previously I would only be known as the same small group of families that knew me as Jesse and Jamie’s dad.”

Guttenberg praised Nelson for his support of universal background checks and banning assault weapons, and blasted his GOP opponent for his refusal to enact common-sense gun safety measures.

The event was held at the Marriott Coral Springs. Guttenberg followed the announcement with a Twitter post reiterating the endorsement, noting several other Parkland families were also in attendance.

U.S. Rep Ted Deutch, who serves the 22nd Congressional District, which covers Parkland, also spoke to the crowd gathered at the Marriott.

“Don’t let people tell you the issue of gun violence has fallen by the wayside,” Deutch said, according to Kara Voght of Mother Jones.

“It’s not what I see, it’s not what I hear.”

Voght also posted comments from Guttenberg himself, where he spoke of the loss of his daughter and why he now seeks stricter gun control measures.

“For those who want to know why I’ve become active in the issue of gun safety and why I call for an ‘orange wave‘ in November, it’s because I start my days at a cemetery. When I think about Jaime running down the hallway and running for her life with an active shooter at her back until ‘boom,’ a single shot to her spinal cord, she needed only one more second to be safe, I have no choice.

“When we know that had the issues of guns been previously dealt with in this state that this issue could have been prevented, I have no choice.”

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons