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While many political observers and reporters in Florida consider, and often mislabel, Florida Senator Bill Nelson a centrist, that label is greatly at odds with his very liberal voting record and 98 percent support of Barack Obama. In fact, it is greatly at odds with a time long ago when Bill Nelson might more accurately have been labeled a centrist, way back in the late 70’s.
Consider that in 1979 and 1980, Bill Nelson supported President Jimmy Carter only 49% and 68% of the time, respectively. In 2009, 2010 and 2011, Bill Nelson supported Obama 97%, 98% and 97% of the time, respectively. Bill Nelson is in no way a centrist, and he has become far too liberal for mainstream Floridians.
Aside from his support of the space program, Nelson has never really identified himself with a strong signature issue. In fact, a Florida magazine once labeled the Democrat an “empty suit.”
So with just over an eleven-week sprint to Election Day, the Bill Nelson of 2012 is in a significantly weaker position than the Bill Nelson of 2006. In 2006, Nelson’s average ballot score in over 30 polls through the mid-August that year was in the mid-50s.
In 2012, Nelson has been mired in the mid-40s in public polling. In fact, his numbers very recently have been falling into the low 40s, and for the first time this cycle, the most recent series of Real Clear Politics (RCP) averages of the polls has had Mack leading and now this race as close as a race can get at 43.8-43.6.
And as we all know, 2006 was one of the worst elections in the last two decades for Republicans; while it was a banner year for Democrats and a thus banner year for Bill Nelson. Overall, the election resulted in a sweeping victory for the Democratic Party, which captured from Republicans control of the US House of Representatives, the US Senate, and a majority of governorships and state legislatures.
Unlike the political and issue landscape of this election, Nelson focused on safe issues in 2006 portraying himself as a bipartisan centrist problem-solver. He obtained the endorsement of all 22 of Florida’s daily newspapers and as the election approached, polls showed Nelson ahead by 26 to 35 points. With a comfortable enough lead in the last weeks, he transferred about $16.5 million of his campaign funds to other Democratic candidates, and won the election with 60.4% of the vote.
The political landscape for 2012 is markedly different from 2006, as are the most important issues on voters’ minds and, much like 2010, it greatly favors the more fiscally-hawkish Republicans like Connie Mack than liberal, big-spending Obama rubber stamps like Bill Nelson.
A closer look at Nelson’s liberal voting record reveals clearly why.
In the slightly more than 10 years that Bill Nelson has been representing the state of Florida, the federal debt has gone from $5.7 trillion to nearly now $16 trillion. He’s voted to raise the debt ceiling 11 times. The annual federal deficit in his first year in 2001 was $127 billion. Last year it was $1.3 trillion – more than a 1000% increase! When Bill Nelson took office, there were over 310,000 unemployed Floridians. Today, that number is tripled.
It is very difficult for Bill Nelson to claim he is not part of the big spending addiction that inflicts liberal Democrats in the Senate. He has voted for 88,990 earmarks during his tenure worth a total of $178 billion! He has sponsored or co-sponsored legislation that, if it all were passed into law, would cost $1.45 trillion.
Remember that self-proclaimed bipartisan, centrist-problem-solver image he wore in his 2006 re-election campaign? In no way can he effectively project that image anymore; it doesn’t fit. Because he has voted with Barack Obama 98 percent of the time, and has voted for increasing taxes 143 times.
In addition to an abysmal fiscal record of supporting record spending, record deficits and record debt that has cost Florida desperately needed economic growth and jobs, and despite having warned President Obama that Obamacare was a raw deal for seniors in Florida, Nelson still caved to White House and his party leadership’s pressure to provide the 60th vote for its passage in the Senate.
All across Florida, the Nelson-supported Obamacare is literally killing jobs. In North Florida, small business owners have said that government-run healthcare is driving up their premiums. Meanwhile, small business owners in Jacksonville have said the taxes in ObamaCare could force them to sell their business. Additionally, in Melbourne, medical device companies have stated that the medical device tax is stifling innovation.
Notably, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has stated the healthcare law will kill 800,000 jobs nationwide.
The Nelson record is further littered with more liberal, big spending initiatives including the failed stimulus, bailouts, cap and trade, card check, and the DREAM Act. And he more recently voted against the pro-domestic energy, pro-jobs Keystone XL Pipeline legislation.
Nelson claimed after his stimulus vote that it would create or save 206,000 jobs. In fact, Florida ranked dead last in stimulus benefits per resident. Today versus when Nelson was sworn in in 2001, Florida construction jobs have dropped 33%, and Florida manufacturing jobs have been reduced by 35%.
Connie Mack is a solid alternative to Bill Nelson
In contrast, Connie Mack has a clear record and offers a great contrast to the ever-left-leaning Nelson. Mack is a vocal supporter of less federal spending and lower taxes, reducing debt and balancing the budget. He is a signer of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Additionally, he is an original co-sponsor of a constitutional amendment to require a balanced federal budget and has been one of the most outspoken opponents of federal bailouts.
He also has sponsored “The Mack Penny Plan,” a straight-forward, common-sense plan to balance the federal budget by: 1) cutting federal spending by one percent each year for six consecutive years; 2) setting an overall spending cap of 18 percent of GDP in 2018; and 3) reducing overall spending by $7.5 trillion over 10 years.
In addition, Mack has a unique idea for what he calls a “Repeal Congress.” Each Congress sits for two years and he is proposing that the House and Senate utilize one whole Congress – for two full years – focusing nearly all legislating on repealing and reworking bad, broken and out-of-date laws currently on the books that do much more damage than good to the American people and our Constitution. Another common-sense conservative idea that is probably too plainly simple and smart to get the traction it deserves.
Mack also maintains a strong, consistent record of voting for pro-growth, pro-jobs legislation throughout his career in the House, legislation that rarely sees a vote these days in the Harry-Reid-Democrat-controlled Senate while they stack up high in a death pile on his desk in the Senate.
This Senate election in Florida is a very clear contrast and Bill Nelson is in serious trouble, as he should be. Conservatives and fiscal-minded independents should take a keen look at Connie Mack as the clear alternative to replacing the far too liberal Bill Nelson.