Florida Senator Bill Nelson Floated as Possible Running Mate for Hillary Clinton

Florida Senator Bill Nelson Floated as Possible Running Mate for Hillary Clinton
Senate Democrats/Creative Commons

After putting all of his chips on the table in a hyper-ambitious run for the White House, Sen. Marco Rubio came up far short. So how ironic would it be if Florida's other senator came closer to 1600 Penn.? Yes, that guy. The one everyone seems to like but no one ever seems to talk about. Bill Nelson.

In a New York Times story about Hillary Clinton's thoughts on choosing a running mate (which relies heavily on various unnamed Democratic insiders), 73-year-old Nelson's name is somewhat surprisingly floated.

The common theory is that Clinton may select someone young and exciting who can represent the future of the party, and that person may very well be of color — someone like HUD Secretary Julian Castro. The counter-narrative is that Clinton may do best by choosing someone who's ideologically acceptable to fans for her primary opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders as a way of uniting the party — someone like Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren.

Though, insiders who talked to the Times suggested an altogether different possibility: that Hillary may very well pick someone safe and boring. That's a description that fits Nelson to a tee:

She knows that if she chooses a younger and ambitious vice president, she will have someone by her side who may be making calculations with an eye toward running for the presidency in 2024. The past two vice presidents, Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Dick Cheney, were widely seen as devoted to their jobs; they appreciated and sought power, but given their ages, they were not determined to seek their bosses’ job in the future. Mrs. Clinton, 68, likes that fact, Democrats say, and has to decide if she wants a rising star or a seasoned hand who is not interested in the presidency, like Bill Nelson, 73, a senator from another key state, Florida.

Choosing someone like Nelson would also take into account that other Bill — the one to whom Hillary is married and the one who would likely wield influence in the administration, leaving even less room than usual for an ambitious veep. Clinton herself occasionally found herself butting heads with Al Gore, a dynamic she might not want to repeat in her own White House.

Nelson, who is generally seen as a cautious moderate, certainly has his pluses. He's from our very important swing state after all, and has been easily reelected here twice by margins almost unheard of in modern Florida politics. He's unlikely to make waves of his own and would probably stick to a few key pet causes, such as environmentalism and climate change. 

Of course, there's one big reason that makes this whole scenario improbable. 

Democrats desperately want to win control of the U.S. Senate. By vacating his seat, Nelson would force a special election, and Democrats down here certainly don't have a surefire candidate lined up to replace him. Then there's the matter of fact that Gov. Rick Scott has the power to pick a temporary replacement in the meantime. 

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