Florida Democrats Prep for Nelson’s 2018 Race

Florida’s senior senator is one of 25 Democrats defending seats in two years

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson faces a potentially tough re-election race as GOP Gov. Rick Scott might run against him. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Florida Sen. Bill Nelson faces a potentially tough re-election race as GOP Gov. Rick Scott might run against him. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted November 14, 2016 at 8:30am

Florida Democrats are trying to pick up the pieces after being decimated by Republicans on all levels in Tuesday’s election as they prepare for a 2018 challenge.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, some Democrats are seeing the same trends in the state that hurt them nationally.

“We ignored the white working class,” Monica Russo, executive vice president of the 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, told the newspaper. “Duh, we shouldn’t do that.”

The party is also concerned as Sen. Bill Nelson faces re-election in 2018 and retiring two-term Republican Gov. Rick Scott could be his opponent. Nelson’s is one of 25 seats Democrats will be defending in two years while Republicans have just eight Senate seats to defend.

The last time Democrats won the governorship in the Sunshine State was in 1994, when Jeb Bush lost his first run for governor to incumbent Gov. Lawton Chiles.

In the state Legislature, Florida Democrats not only lost districts that broke for Republican President-elect Donald Trump, but also districts where voters split their ticket between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and downballot Republicans.

Juan Cuba, executive director of the Miami-Dade County Democratic Party, said there was also a “Marco Rubio effect,” as the incumbent Republican senator soundly beat Democratic challenger Rep. Patrick Murphy, in the process helping lift other Republicans candidates to victory. 

But despite his loss and the fact that he only recently became a Democrat before running for public office in 2012, Murphy’s name is being floated as a potential new chairman of the state Democratic Party.

Another potential choice is former Miami-Dade Democratic County Party chairwoman Annette Taddeo, who lost to former Rep. Joe Garcia in the August primary for Florida’s 26th District. Garcia fell to incumbent GOP Rep. Carlos Curbelo by double digits last week.