Mitch Perry Report 4.25.14: Bill Nelson's dilemma


You'd think after being locked out of the governor's mansion for 16 long years, Florida Democrats would be united this year as they contemplate ousting a man whom so many hold in contempt, Rick Scott.

But this being Florida Democrats, you'd be wrong. 

The reason we say that is because not every Democrat has jumped onto the Charlie Crist Bandwagon, at least not now, some six months before the gubernatorial election. A healthy number still support Nan Rich, or at least support her having the chance to prove herself against the front-runner for the nomination, a man who was Republican his whole life until a year and a half ago.

Earlier this week the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee voted to support Rich getting the opportunity to debate Crist. A day later, Rich jumped on the offer by the Florida Society of News Editors and the Florida Press to debate Crist in July, while Charlie continues to say he has bigger fish to fry —  i.e., run against Rick Scott and his $100 million re-election assault.

And then we have Bill Nelson. Florida Democrats, what are you going to do with him?

Nelson has played footsie over the past year with the idea of possibly, just possibly, entering the race for governor — but only in oblique ways, and when asked directly, is shocked, I tell you, shocked at the idea. At least twice in the past year Nelson went into high dudgeon when I dared asked him simply whether he would consider a run. Many, many times, in countless appearances, he has said he is not a candidate. But there he was earlier this week in Daytona Beach, reportedly telling a group of business leaders that he's "tempted" to run because of his frustrations with Governor Scott.

Memo to Nelson: The deadline to file is in June. Either get in the race or get behind Rich or Crist. Though most polls have shown Crist to have about a 5-6 point lead over Scott if the election were to be held next week, a Mason-Dixon survey released yesterday shows the two men in a tie, so he's certainly no gimme to knock out the incumbent.

If Nelson thinks he can do better, he should get into the thing. But being one of 100 U.S. Senators in the most exclusive club in the nation is probably easier than running the third biggest state in the nation, and it would definitely be a sacrifice for the 71-year-old to get on the campaign trail, and then, if he were to be successful, try to govern this place called Florida. Nobody really thinks Nelson's going to run, but it's sort of a shame that he can't get behind either of the candidates who are putting themselves on the line for their party and their state.

In other news… CL attended the major IIFA news conference yesterday with Mayor Buckhorn, Rick Scott, a few Bollywood stars and a whole lot of Indian reporters and camera crews. IIFA is at full intensity leading up to Saturday night's big ceremonies....

USF President Judy Genshaft reacts to that petition calling on USF's foundation to divest from companies that provide assistance to Israel.

And though it's way too premature to say the tide is turning when it comes to popular opinion over the Affordable Care Act, what is apparent is that more and more Democrats are starting to boast about it instead of shying away from it...

And check out my  feature in this week's CL on the Tampa/Hillsborough Film Commission and the fight for new tax incentives to lure Hollywood productions to Florida.

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