It's not implausible that the outcome in Florida's U.S. Senate race this year could determine whether the winner in the presidential election is working with a Democratic or Republican Senate.
Yet for a contest so crucial, the Sunshine State's Senate race has been low-key. The candidates, incumbent Democrat
That leaves us, and voters, with their records and their campaign platforms to consider. On that basis, Florida would be much better off re-electing Bill Nelson.
Nelson is a veteran public servant — a two-term U.S. senator, former state insurance commissioner, U.S. House member and state legislator.
In the Senate, Nelson has been a champion for
Nelson has helped protect Florida's coastal environment, tourism economy and military training areas from offshore oil drilling. A law he and then-U.S.
This year Nelson and Florida's junior U.S. senator, Republican
Nelson's other priorities in this campaign — including energy independence, consumer protection, job creation, cyber security and deficit reduction — are sensible. We're hoping that he will become more of a leader in the Senate, as a member of both the Budget and Finance committees, in efforts to broker a long-term budget deal. For a veteran senator, he has been too timid on controversial national issues.
But Mack, a four-term U.S. House member from Fort Myers, has virtually no legislative accomplishments to call his own. His best known initiative, a balanced budget proposal called "The Penny Plan," has gone nowhere. A cuts-only approach, it could whack trillions of dollars from Medicare, Social Security and the Pentagon.
Mack seems to be hoping that voters will go to the polls thinking they've got another chance to vote for his popular father, Connie Mack III, who represented Florida for two terms in the U.S. Senate. The younger Mack has even borrowed a page from his father's political playbook, branding Nelson a "lockstep liberal" with President Obama.
It's true that Nelson cast votes for the president's stimulus package in 2009 and health-care overhaul in 2010, but so did every other Democrat in the Senate. Independent analysts, including the National Journal, have ranked Nelson among the Senate's more moderate Democrats.
With moderates an endangered species on Capitol Hill, it would be a loss for Florida and the nation if voters kicked out a centrist like Nelson in favor of a partisan like Mack.