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And So It Begins

The Nelson Thing

by Derek Newton

In discussions with Democrats here and there, I've picked up what I can only describe as a festering discontent with Senator Bill Nelson.

Some members of our Party tell me that Nelson has become a Republican. He doesn't vote the "right way" on certain issues. Their logic seems to be, and some have even said, that Democrats should teach him a lesson and not support him in 2006.

And I have to say I don't get this.

No, more than that, this has to be among the dumbest things I've ever heard.

Make no mistake; Bill Nelson is no poster child for liberal causes. If I were in the Senate I am sure I would have cast a few votes differently than our senior Senator.

But any elected legislator will tell you there's only one vote that really counts - the vote for who will lead the Chamber. Nelson voted for Tom Daschle and Harry Reid to lead the U.S. Senate.

Without a Democrat in that seat, that leadership vote will be cast for Bill Frist. Or worse.

On that score it seems to me that those Democrats who are inclined to withhold support for Nelson would rather see Majority Leader Santorum than Majority Leader Obama.

Even more importantly, unless I missed an election, Nelson is our only statewide elected Democrat. Not to rip off Looney Toons but he's all there is folks. And if he stumbles at the ballot box next fall Florida will officially become no different than Texas - a large state without a Democrat anywhere in sight.

But there are good Democrats running in 2006 you say.

Yes, there are. But most of the time it takes at least one statewide loss before you win in Florida and, as of today, we have exactly zero candidates for 2006 who have been on a statewide General Election ballot.

Let me put it another way. What do you think the odds are of say Jim Davis beating say Charlie Crist on the same ballot where Bill Nelson is losing?

Start at zero and count backwards.

Really our best and perhaps only shot of winning a statewide seat is with a very strong Nelson showing. With Nelson winning with 55% of the vote it begins to be conceivable that a Democratic Attorney General candidate, for example, could squeeze out a 52-48 win.

To me, punishing Nelson seems, as they say in Dixie County, "bassackwards." We need Bill Nelson a hell of a lot more than he needs us.

Recent polling in Jacksonville and outlying Tampa (both solid Republican areas) show Nelson coasting. It's possible that Nelson can win without help from "rank and file" Democrats by moving even father right. But I am nearly certain that our other candidates can't win without his help.

And here's a new idea. Maybe if the Democratic Party wakes up and rallies around Nelson he may win comfortably - with enough votes to actually steal a seat in Congress or pick-off a few seats in the Florida House.

As an experienced operative friend of mine said a few weeks ago, "Nelson may be only 60% Democrat but that's 60% more than Mel Martinez." And in political math, Nelson is quite possibly 120% more Democratic than Katherine Harris.

Love him or hate him, Nelson is the top of our ticket and I don't see any Democrats lining up to challenge him. I only hear a few lost souls whispering about him.

It's well past time for that to stop.

The next election will be a war. And the first rule of combat is to know friend from foe.


7/12/2005 7:21 AM, by Anonymous Anonymous

for several reasons why Bill Nelson should be very scared right now see; http://www.flapolitics.com/forum.htm

He's in big trouble!



7/12/2005 1:40 PM, by Anonymous Anonymous

This is exactly what Derek's talking about.

What are you looking at? Every poll done in Florida shows Nelson with a strong lead.

Stop attacking the guy and let's get behind him.



7/12/2005 7:08 PM, by Anonymous Anonymous

There are alot of rank and file Democrats who don't like him because he votes with the Repubs on so many issues: the Bankruptcy bill, CAFTA, and Iraq. These votes will lead to more debt, more job loss, and worse in Iraq. If he really wants to lose, he should vote with the Repubs on the supreme Ct nominee.

McCollum was the best thing to ever happen to him, and his luck continues with Harris as his opponent.



7/13/2005 7:09 AM, by Anonymous Redneck Democrat

Can someone help me understand why centrist Democrats keep getting pushed away by the "rank and file"? Clinton was by many standards a centrist Democrat - NAFTA, welfare reform, cops on the streets, etc. And the base LOVED him. So, what's the difference?

There's this continual theme among lots of the "rank and file" Democrats that we need "real Democrats" - i.e., liberal Democrats. With very few exceptions, that mentality has brought us a string of losing candidates nationally and here in Florida.

Nelson represents a state where Democrats have overwhelmingly LOST the past 3-4 statewide cycles, with him being one of the few winners. Anybody ever thought maybe he's doing something RIGHT?

Don't know what it takes for us to learn this lesson. I just don't get it.



7/13/2005 4:12 PM, by Anonymous Anonymous

Senator Nelson is far, far from perfect as a senator or as a candidate. Still, I agree with Florida Politics. With so many really terrible Republicans in office, it is incredibly stupid to start stabbing the back of the closest thing to a friend in office Florida Democrats have.

Nelson needs serious help, though. At best, he's an indifferent public speaker. More often, he's simply a terrible speaker.

He has to develop a short series of punchy, easy-to-remember campaign themes. These should be strong, progressive themes which appeal to both moderates and liberals. Universal health care. A more secure homeland without surrendering the U.S. treasury to the Halliburtons of the world. Save Social Security from Wall Street. Better enforcement of laws protecting workers and fair wages. No more "wars of choice" that only lose us friends and make us more enemies.

If he wants to win, whatever his personal opinions may be, Nelson will have to take on the White House, too. By 2006 the Bush White House will be even more unpopular than it is now.



7/13/2005 7:28 PM, by Blogger subutane

Stop the Cover-Up and Fire Karl Rove

Citizens to Protest and Picket in Front of White House

Citizens from across the country will join MoveOn Political Action members tomorrow at a protest in front of the White House to demand that President Bush fire his top political advisor, Karl Rove, for outing Valerie Plame, an undercover CIA operative.

Currently the President has refused to take action against Mr. Rove, his close friend and top political advisor. On September 29, 2003, Scott McClellan stated in a White House press briefing: “If anyone in this Administration was involved in it, [theValeriePlameleak] they would no longer be in this Administration.”

MoveOn Political Action, formerly known as MoveOn PAC, demands the administration stay true to its word and fire those responsible for the leak.

Protest details:

Who: Citizens from across the country and MoveOn members
Where: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., in front of White House
When: Thursday, July 14, 2005, 2:30 PM EST

Full email invite:

Dear MoveOn member,

You're invited to come speak out against Karl Rove's abuse of power and demand that President Bush fire Rove. Join other MoveOn members and members of the community at a peaceful protest and picket, Thursday July 14, at 2:30 PM on Pennsylvania Avenue outside The White House.

Rove betrayed the identity of an undercover CIA operative forcing her to end a decade of important national security work. He did it to protect the Bush political agenda. Now, the White House is covering up this betrayal of our national security. The media is ready to report on public outrage about Rove. Will you show up and speak out?

Please join us tomorrow and let Bush, the media and Congress know that Americans are angry about Rove.

What: Protest and Picket to Demand Bush Fire Karl Rove

Where: The White House, Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC (Metro: Farragut West or McPherson Square)

When: 2:30 PM :: Thursday, July 14, 2005 (rain or shine)

Signs will be provided.

I'll see you there. Thanks for all you do.

-Tom Matzzie
MoveOn PAC
Wednesday, July 13, 2005

P.S. If you want to come dressed up in costume as a spy and protest the media will love that. Think: trench coat, sunglasses and a little nametag that says, "Spy."



7/14/2005 5:57 AM, by Anonymous Anonymous

Not sure what that has to do with the price of tea in China.

But ok.

Maybe it would be better to go to the protest dressed as a plumber. They stop leaks.



7/14/2005 7:47 AM, by Anonymous spencer

One of the dumbest things you've ever heard, huh?

Riddle me this, then: if we keep giving him our unconditional support on the off chance we might pick up enough Senate seats elsewhere (thus enabling Nelson to cast a meaningful vote for Harry Reid as Senate Majority Leader), how are we ever going to get him the message that it is unacceptable to Democrats (well, at least a good percentage of them) when he does things like vote in favor of that evil bankruptcy bill?

I'm asking a serious question here, because I know we've discussed this in the past. How are we going to get him to vote in a way that represents Democratic values if we support him no matter what he does? Or does that not even matter anymore?

Because if it doesn't, then this whole discussion seems like an exercise in mental masturbation.



7/14/2005 10:16 AM, by Blogger DerekTNG


The real question is do you want 60% of your Senator's votes to be "democratic" or 0%?

It's not that Nelson is perfect it's that he's 1000% better than any Republican.

We only hurt ourselves when we attack Nelson. And maybe, just maybe, the reason he has a wide lead over the likes of Harris is because he votes for conservative issues once in a while.

I wish Nelson was a liberal Democrat. But one of those likely couldn't win in Florida today. So let's be happy we have something because anything is better than nothing.



7/14/2005 11:27 AM, by Anonymous spencer

But Derek, it's more than once in a while. I could live with once in a while, especially if that meant he voted the conservative line on bills that had little chance of passing, or of having any actual impact on life in America. You know, the symbolic stuff.

Hell, I'd take 35% "Democratic" votes, if they were on the right issues. I know you can't be Barney Frank or John Conyers and win elections down here.

But his vote on the bankruptcy bill is shameful. Period. I'd expect a vote like that from Martinez or Harris. But any Democrat who voted for that odious piece of legislation is a DINO. Real Democrats do not protect the wealth of rich corporations at the expense of everyday Americans who cannot make ends meet. Just because he calls himself a Democrat doesn't make it so. Sorry, but that's how I see it.

It sounds like you're saying that I am right on at least one point - that we Democrats have no way to influence how Nelson votes, and should just be happy with whatever table scraps we are likely to get. I hope you understand if I am less than satisfied with that situation, and less than eagar to jump on the Nelson bandwagon.

I should point out here that I'd never vote for a Republican under any circumstances, so there's no chance of me actively voting against Nelson. And if Harris manages to close the gap and make it a race, I'll vote for him. But if the guy doesn't vote like a Democrat, I don't see why we automatically owe him our support (absent a realistic chance of recapturing the Senate, of course).



7/14/2005 3:19 PM, by Blogger DerekTNG


I feel your pain, brother.

If it were me in your position, honestly, I'd write him a letter. Tell him your a Democrat and how upset you are about his votes. Site the bankruptcy bill (that one ticked me off too). Tell him you plan to vote for him but you'd feel better about it if he moved left.

Or go to an event where he is and tell him personally.

Or if you have more time, campaign for him, raise him money, host a party at your house. When you're done, tell him and his staff what you think.

The best way, honestly, to teach him a lesson is for the Democratic base not to abandon him. If his Democratic votes go away, he'll continue to move to the right.

But if Dems help him and he wins a close race, believe me he'll remember and learn. That's the perfect scenario for me, personally.

I'd like Nelson to be more liberal and I intend to tell him so. As a friend and supporter and donor. Maybe I'll send a note with my check!




7/15/2005 3:08 PM, by Anonymous Anonymous

Nelson knows that the Bankruptcy bill and CAFTA were bad bills, but he probably thought he could get more contributions by voting for them.

It's not a liberal/conservative democrat issue. It's a corporation vs. individual issue. I was told by some union leaders that Nelson loved their help in his '00 race, but now he won't take their calls. Anyhow, it's his own fault that many Dems do not love him like they loved Clinton. If he loses bc some Dems decide not to vote for him, it can be traced to his votes and ignoring the base. But I suspect he'll win bc most Dems despise Harris so much, just like when he beat McCollum.



7/15/2005 5:12 PM, by Anonymous Anonymous


What are you talking about?

You said, "If he loses bc some Dems decide not to vote for him, it can be traced to his votes and ignoring the base."


If Nelson loses, it's your fault.

But that won't stop you from complaining about the Republican when they win. Or blaming the "Party" for losing. But it won't be your fault.

If only Nelson had done it your way...

Boo Hoo! Shut the hell up and vote Democratic!

You have a U.S. Senator in office now but you'd rather be right and lose that seat.

Here's a news flash for you: the problem with the "party" isn't people like Nelson, it's YOU!

God you piss me off.



7/16/2005 5:24 AM, by Anonymous I Don't Get it

I disagree with the last poster to the extent it suggests blind loyalty. Nelson has penty of room on his left into which he can move yet, for reasons I cannot fathom, he won't do it. Hey, let's keep the pressure on Nelson to do the right things - always a chore (though a tough race is just what he needs to know where his support really lies) - and then vote for him.



7/16/2005 3:39 PM, by Anonymous Anonymous

If you got pissed off at that post, then that's your problem. I've heard many Dems say derogatory things about Nelson. And when he votes for bad Republican bills, it's no wonder why.

Hopefully Harris gets the nomination. But if Bense runs, and gets the Repub nomination, Nelson is in jeopardy because he has not engendered much Dem loyalty. Yes, that's he fault.



7/19/2005 6:57 AM, by Anonymous Anonymous

What is it with Democrats and the circular firing squad?

If we don't get our act together - and SOON - we're toast. And it will be our own fault.

Nelson may not be anyone's dream. But he's done some good things in office, even though there have been some bad votes. Turning on him could be the worst mistake Florida Democrats have made in a long time.



7/19/2005 7:45 AM, by Blogger Kevin Cerino

One correction...

There is a Democrat running who has been on ballot state-wide before. Scott Maddox has run unsuccessfully for AG.



7/24/2005 1:30 AM, by Blogger RightDemocrat

Bill Nelson will have a serious challenge next year and it is important that he balance the concerns of the party base with the general electorate. Senator Nelson has a proven history as a statewide voter getter and a pleasant Old Florida manner somewhat reminiscent of the late Lawton Chiles. Still, the increasingly strong Republican trend in North and Central Florida make Nelson vulnerable. Furthermore, the Democratic base in South Florida has proven to be quite fickle. Given the opportunity to vote against the worst Governor in Florida's hisory in 2002, the Democratic stronghold of Broward County had one of the worst voter turnouts in the state.

In my view, the Democratic Party in Florida and nationally needs to return to economic populism and move to center on social issues. Therefore, I disagree with Nelson's choice as to where to deviate from the party line. I would much rather that Nelson had voted against late term abortion and for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage instead of going along with big business on key votes. I was disappointed by Nelson's votes on CAFTA and the bankruptcy "reform" bill. It is certainly possible that the Senator's liberal social views and big business oriented votes on economic issues will both come back to haunt him.

In my view, Democrats can be fiscally and socially conservative, but tend to lose credibility as champions of the working and middle classes when they vote the big business line on consumer and labor issues. That is one reason why so many working class voters have abandoned the Democratic Party. These voters see neither party as representing their economic interests and as a result end up voting on the basis of social issues such as gun control, abortion and gay marriage.
Democrats must stand for something, but first we identify what our acutal core values are.



1/11/2006 7:51 PM, by Anonymous insiderD

Knowing Nelson and their organization well, it amazes me that do folks just do get it. Our diversity is our greatest strength yet is our greatest weakness. we cannot afford to be divided on this senate race. Get it together D's and stop bitching because you all always think our candidates are not liberal enough. That is why we loose races...green party for example. We could have had Gore now look we just have stupid.



1/19/2006 2:57 PM, by Blogger da rattler

Mr. Nelson may not be right on every issue, but he's all we got right now. He deserves our support. Can you imagine just how wrong on the issues Katherine Harris would be. Good lawd!



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