WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Former Florida Senator Bill Nelson is sounding off about the current political climate. He offers his take on what needs to change, thoughts on last year’s brutal campaign season, and life after Congress in this exclusive interview with Washington Correspondent Alana Austin.
Since his searing ’18 election defeat, Bill Nelson is spending more time with his family, getting back into his exercise routine and reflecting. After nearly half a century in office, Nelson – a Democrat – says hyper-partisanship is poisoning politics.
“People have got to come together,” said Nelson.
In this first interview since leaving office, Bill Nelson says he looks forward to the chapter ahead, but offers a warning.
“I have never seen it so ideologically driven and so excessively partisan-driven, and America can’t function like this,” said Nelson.
Nelson – who lost his seat in last year’s highly competitive election against then-Republican Governor Rick Scott – calls for more civility in politics. He also spoke about the era of President Donald Trump, and how rural Florida counties that he carried in past elections flipped in the GOP’s favor in 2018.
“Life is not R or D...It’s not red or blue, it’s USA. It’s red white and blue, and ultimately, we’re going to have to change,” said Nelson.
The 2018 elections in Florida were full of controversy – with both sides raising serious concerns with how the voting process played out. In the end, Nelson lost by a mere 10,033 votes. Now he urges Florida’s state lawmakers to reform the election systems in the legislative session.
“I think that there were a lot of questions. Now would that have changed the outcome, and the outcome having been one tenth of one percent differential in the Senate race? I don’t know the answer to that,” mused Nelson.
Nelson says he’s going to be a strong voice for issues he cares about, like the environment, LGBT rights, national security – and as a former astronaut – the future of space.
“What a wonderful privilege that I have had of representing our state and our country for all these years and I am very grateful,” said Nelson.
Looking ahead, Nelson says Democrats can count on him to campaign for the party’s 2020 presidential nominee in one of the country’s most important swing states.
For now, Nelson tells Alana Austin he’s holding off on making an endorsement, but believes any of the Senate Democrats in the running would make a great future U.S. President. He also named former Vice President Joe Biden as a top contender.