Bill Nelson (D-FL)

Democratic incumbent U.S. Senator Bill Nelson is running for reelection in 2018. He has a long history of public service, working as a Florida Representative and a U.S. Representative before serving as a U.S. Senator. He also served as the payload specialist in 1986 for the Columbia space shuttle. After the August 28 primaries, Nelson will almost definitely run against right-wing Republican Governor Rick Scott in the November 6 general election.

Background and Achievements

Bill Nelson grew up in Florida and attended the University of Florida before transferring to Yale University for his BA. He attended the University of Virginia Law School for his JD. While in school, he served in the U.S. Army Reserve and was on active duty after law school. Nelson has extensive government experience, beginning with service as a representative in the Florida House of Representatives for six years. He was then elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for 12 years. During his time as a U.S. Rep, he was also a payload specialist for the Columbia space shuttle in 1986. Most recently, he won election to the U.S. Senate in 2000 and has served the state of Florida for the last 18 years.

His record of service includes support for abortion rights, gun control, same-sex marriage, tax increases for the wealthy, minimum wage increases, and environmental protection. He has 100% ratings from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, NARAL Pro-Choice America, the National Organization for Women, the NAACP, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Education Association, the Alliance for Retired Americans, the League of Conservation Voters, and the AFL-CIO as well as a 91% from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and a 7% from the National Rifle Association.

Positions on Key Issues

  • Supports investing in renewable energy and opposes offshore oil drilling
  • Advocates for protecting Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act
  • Promotes investing in public education and making higher education and technical training more affordable
  • Supports reproductive health rights
  • Supports common sense gun reform

Prospects & Opponents

Incumbent Bill Nelson is running unopposed in the Democratic primary on August 28. In the general election on November 6, Nelson will run against the Republican primary winner, who is almost guaranteed to be Florida Governor Rick Scott. Nelson was first elected in 2000 and won his last reelection in 2012 by 13 points. The Cook Political Report rates the election as a toss-up. The two most recent polls on the race reported opposite outcomes. Florida Atlantic University from July 20-21 reported that Scott is up by 4 points while Gravis from July 13-14 reported that Nelson is up by 4 points.


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