As governor candidate Charlie Crist’s most visible Palm Beach County cheerleader looked on, U.S. Sen Bill Nelson on Wednesday attempted to dampen speculation – that he’s fueled himself – that Nelson would jump into the 2014 race for governor.
“I have no plans to run for governor. I have no intention of running for governor,” Nelson told reporters after an appearance at the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Office.
There’s been up and down speculation for much of 2013 about whether Nelson – Florida’s only statewide elected Democrat – would seek his party’s nomination for governor.
He’s usually downplayed the speculation, but it flared last month after Nelson told a Politico reporter in Washington that he might run if Crist “gets into trouble.” Asked what he meant by “trouble,” Nelson said, “that’s in the eye of the beholder.”
On Wednesday Nelson downplayed the beholder comment.
He said it came as he encountered a phalanx of reporters outside the Senate the day after he had knee surgery and was concentrating on navigating an escalator while on crutches.
“They’re all swarming around sticking their deal [audio recorders] into your face,” he said. “He asked me a whole bunch of questions and … I said some flip remark.”
That came after earlier news reports that a Nelson aide was calling donors and suggesting the senator might run. He avoided a question Wednesday about whether people should hold back on donations to Crist.
“I’m not getting into that. I’m not in it. I’m trying to be a good senator. And everybody wants me to get in and start direction what this should happen and what that should happen. That’s what we have elections for,” he said.
Nelson later had a brief meeting with former Palm Beach County Commissioner Burt Aaronson, a longtime ally of the senators and Crist’s most prominent Palm Beach County booster.
As reporters edged ever closer and took pictures of the two outside the elections office, they relocated their chat to the front seat of Aaronson’s Lexus.
Aaronson wouldn’t say much about their conversation. “The senator has indicated to me that he’s the senator, that’s it. We just talked about old times.”
Crist, who was the Republican governor from 2007 to 2011, is now a Democrat. Former Florida Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich, D-Weston, is also seeking the party’s nomination for governor.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun