Nelson: We'll Lose Florida Again If Democrats Nominate Sanders or Warren

Bill Nelson (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
November 5, 2019

A longtime Florida Democratic lawmaker is warning his party against nominating Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) or Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) for president, saying it would effectively hand his state to President Donald Trump.

Bill Nelson, a former three-term U.S. senator, told the Daily Beast "the answer is yes" when asked if putting forward either of the left-wing candidates would result in another loss in Florida for Democrats.

"I say this with the greatest respect and admiration and friendship for those other senators who embrace Medicare for All," he said. "But the hard reality is, it is going to be a stretch too far for the Democrat candidate."

Nelson is backing former vice president Joe Biden, who has criticized Warren and Sanders for their health care proposals, which would abolish private insurance in favor of a government-run system. Medicare for All has staggering costs, estimated as high as $34 trillion in added spending over the next decade.

Biden has called for preserving Obamacare and creating a "public option" that would allow any American to buy into Medicare, an unrealized goal of President Barack Obama's. Biden's campaign estimates the cost to be $750 billion over the next 10 years.

Though running in a favorable year for Democrats, Nelson was ousted by Republican Rick Scott in one of the nation's closest races in 2018. It left the state with two Republican senators for the first time since the 19th century. Republican Ron DeSantis, a Trump ally, won the governor's race and has maintained a high approval rating since taking office.

Florida, worth 29 electoral votes, is tied with New York as the third-biggest Electoral College prize in the United States. Trump carried the state in 2016 over Hillary Clinton by 1.2 percentage points, marking the sixth consecutive time Florida's victor also won the presidency.