2018       General Election     Lost 50 – 50 (10,033 votes)

Is Bill Nelson an endangered Democratic Senator?  He is, this time.

Bill Nelsonhttps://nelsonforsenate.com/ was an ambitious young man who achieved most of his ambitions.  He is a successful Florida politician, a Senator, who occasionally surprises.

Here is a surprise from when he was young. He did not stay in Florida.

He went to the University of Florida where he became a member of Blue Key — a student honor and service society.  Wikipedia says ….”Florida’s famous politicians and business leaders became members of Florida Blue Key during their collegiate years and have followed that network for much of their careers.” 

Florida was not enough.  Bill Nelson left that network and transferred to Yale from which he graduated.  At Yale, he joined a powerful secret society (though not the most famous and powerful secret society that G.H.W Bush, G.W Bush, and John Kerry belonged to). 

After law school at the University of Virginia, in 1965 he came back to Florida and joined the US Army Reserve.  Shortly after his mother died (his father had died when he was 14), Bill Nelson went on active duty as a pilot and stayed in the army until 1971, leaving as a captain.  Back in civilian life, he briefly became an aide to Governor Reuben Askew.  In 1972, he was elected to the Florida House. He stayed there for three terms and ran for an open, but previously Republican seat in the  US Congress.  Winning that election and additional elections despite being redistricted into another district, he stayed in the House of Representatives until 1991. 

Bill Nelson lost trying to become Governor.  In 1990, he lost the Democratic primary to Lawton Chiles, who was elected Governor.  Bill Nelson was not done with politics.  In 1994, her ran for and was elected Treasurer (and, all the same office ––  Insurance Commissioner and Fire Marshall).  From that position, he ran for and won an open Senate seat formerly held by a Republican. 

Bill Nelson is the kind of Democrat who can win an open, previously Republican seat.  He can also beat extreme Republicans.  In 2006, while giving away a lot of his campaign funds to fellow Democrats, he handily defeated Katherine Harris, the former Florida Secretary of State who bore some responsibility for the questionable election of George W Bush.  Bill Nelson won a slightly closer race in 2012 defeating Connie Mack IV by more than ten points.

These Notes have focused on Democratic incumbents who are vulnerable and Democratic candidates opposing Republicans who are vulnerable.  Many of these incumbents and candidates have qualities that make them electable in places where it can be difficult for Democrats to be elected.  Think about what makes Bill Nelson electable (he has won many elections in Florida) and what makes him vulnerable. He is liberal on economics, liberal to moderate on foreign policy, and moderate on social issues.  Here are some specifics.  Watch for the bolded surprises below.  Pay attention to when he does not surprise. 

  • He supports trade agreements — not surprising in a state where unions are weak.
  • He is willing to reduce or eliminate estate taxes — not so surprising for a Democrat in Florida with so many elderly
  • He supports the Affordable Care Act — not surprising as all Democrats have supported that
  • He loves the space program — not surprising for a program so integral to Florida
  • He really loves the space program — it is surprising how much Nelson loves the space program.  He flew as a Payload Specialist while a Congressman aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia in January, 1986.  In some places, under occupation, he is listed both as a politician and an astronaut.
  • He loves aviation — it is surprising that, of all the things to focus on in a fund raising questionnaire, he focuses on the possibility of the FAA being privatized
  • He is not an absolutist about torture — it is always surprising to say that about someone, but he was the only Intelligence Committee Democrat to oppose withholding money from the CIA to attempt to prevent torture
  • He supports same sex marriage — That would surprise the pre-2013 Bill Nelson who opposed it.
  • He opposes tax cuts for the rich — it is not surprising that he votes with the Democrats on economic issues
  • He supports some gun control requirements — it is not surprising that he votes with the Democrats on some non-economic issues
  • He supported flood insurance reform — it is not surprising that, as a Florida officeholder, he supported flood insurance even though the reform included insurance rate increases.  It is equally unsurprising that he supported rebates to those paying high insurance costs. 
  • He supports environmental research and expenditures in areas that are helpful to Florida.  — Not surprising.
  • He has been involved in some fund raising scandals, taking illegal campaign donations. — Not surprising, Florida is a very big and expensive state to campaign in.
  • In 2006, he paid a visit to Bashar Assad, President of Syria — a surprising trip against the wishes of the State Department and the White House, a visit as Senator from a state where the Jewish vote is meaningful.  Perhaps this visit was offset by his urging President Obama to bomb Syria.
  • In 2017, he reacted cautiously to questions about removing confederate monuments — saying that monuments should bring communities together and decisions about taking down monuments should be made by local communities — a surprising response that makes you think about Bill Nelson’s core constituency.
  • He has not made money from being a Senator — He is not poor.  His wealth is well below average for a Senator.  His net worth is over $3 million in a body where the average net worth is over $13 million.  Surprisingly, his net worth declined by 4% per year according to Ballotpedia’s report. 


Bill Nelson will not get any gifts from the Republicans in 2018.  The twice elected, extremely wealthy Republican governor will probably be his opponent, an opponent who knows how to win state-wide races in Florida.  So does Bill Nelson, of course.  He needs your help to win.

We really need Bill Nelson https://nelsonforsenate.com/. We cannot afford to lose him from the Senate.  In fact, we can’t afford to lose any Democratic Senators if there is any hope of gaining control of the Senate. We certainly do not want to come out of the 2018 election with fewer Democratic Senators than the forty-eight there are now.  The election is a little more than fourteen months away.  Small monthly donations (as well as large ones, of course) are extremely helpful.   Think about giving him a boost.