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Nelson sticking to statement, still “no intention of running” for gov

by John Kennedy | October 26th, 2013

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson stayed on script Saturday when asked whether he was satisfied with a Democratic field for governor headed by former Republican Charlie Crist and longshot hopeful Nan Rich.

“I have no plans to run for governor and I have no intention of running for governor,” Nelson said, repeating the oblique statement he’s been making for months.

But he added, “The state’s going into a ditch. The state is going in the wrong direction.”

Nelson, elected last fall to a third term, insisted that he has plenty to do in the U.S. Senate.

But he was quick to show off a familiarity with state issues still hot for Democrats: The Republican Legislature’s rejection of Medicaid expansion, Gov. Rick Scott’s turnback of high-speed rail, and even a recent Public Service Commission ruling that will have customers pay millions for the failures of Duke Energy’s Crystal River nuclear plant.

“Where’s the leadership?” an exasperated Nelson said.

Nelson ran for governor in 1990, losing the Democratic primary that year to Lawton Chiles, the former senator who went on to serve two terms as governor. Chiles, who died in 1998, is the last Florida Democrat elected governor.

Nelson is clearly keeping an eye on the state candidate qualifying period, which he accurately said was June 16-20. But he told reporters he was wary of saying anything that would breathe life into talk of him as a candidate for governor.

“If I say anything, you guys are going to run with it,” Nelson said. “And I’m not going to let you guys run with it.”

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