U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who’s been declining for months to rule out the possibility that he’ll run for governor next year, appeared to crack the door a bit further open in comments to Politico.
According to the Politico report, Nelson said openly what he’s been hinting at — or at least refusing to deny when Florida political reporters speculated on it: He might run for governor if it starts looking like the Democratic nominee, presumably Charlie Crist, will lose to incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
Nelson said once again, as he has so many time, that he has “no intention” of running for governor, but then reportedly added he would consider getting in the race if Crist “gets in trouble.” Asked what he meant by “trouble,” Nelson said, “That’s in the eye of the the beholder.”
For some time, close Nelson associates, including Chief of Staff Pete Wilson, have been telling Nelson supporters the senator isn’t ruling out the possibility of a 2014 run.
Nelson has made it clear he thinks Scott should be defeated, repeatedly criticizing the governor in increasingly harsh terms for several months.
In comments to reporters at the Democratic state conference two weeks ago, Nelson said he is continuing to hear pleas from Democrats that he should run, and hinted that he’ll consider it if a win by another Democratic candidate looks doubtful.
Asked whether he was satisfied with Crist and former state Sen. Nan Rich as the two choices in a Democratic primary, he didn’t answer directly, instead responding: “The qualifying period (when candidates may file) is June 16 to June 20”; and asked whether there was a chance he would run, he said: “I have said I have no plans to run for governor and I have no intention of running for governor, but I will say … the state’s going into a ditch. The state’s going in the wrong direction.”
Some Democrats, however, are concerned that by leaving the door open to running, Nelson might cause Democratic campaign donors to hold off giving money to Crist.