Bill Nelson Concedes Senate Race to Rick Scott

Florida Senator Bill Nelson

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) has conceded the Senate race to Republican rival Rick Scott after a recount. Scott, who is leaving his job as Florida governor, won by 10,033 votes out of more than 8.1 million cast.

Nelson, who has been a strong supporter of NASA, has held the Senate seat for 18 years. He previously served in the House of Representatives from 1979 to 1991.

During his time in the House, he flew into space as a payload specialist aboard the space shuttle Columbia in 1986.

Scott has also been a strong supporter of the space program during his time as governor. Space Florida, which serves as the state’s space agency, has spent millions of dollars on infrastructure improvements and other incentives at Cape Canaveral to lure commercial companies to operate there.

Nelson was one of three prominent space advocates to lose re-election bids. Rep. John Culberson. Republican lost his bid to continue representing Texas’ 7th district. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) will also be departing after 30 years in the House.

  • Tom Billings

    I wonder, will Congress notice that Nelson and Culbertson were two of the more prominent members of the SLS/Orion coalition? The idea, that simply using NASA money to flush away worries over re-election may not be working, is an interesting one. The downside is that even people *not* using that strategy, such as Rohrabacher, also lost, in part because they were spending time on spaceflight. If there is a name contagion building, that assumes that anyone in Congress who spends time on spaceflight is wasting tax dollars, then this may be a net negative.

    Still, the possibility that the link, between allocating resources for spaceflight into your own district and winning elections, may be weakening, is not a bad thing. The question I now have is whether opening up the freedoms of action needed for private investment in spaceflight can be made a net positive for politicians, or will it be swept up in the negative associations of resouce drains like SLS/Orion?

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    The space communities of the right or left are so small we are of no consequence. I did not pay attention to the Nelson/Scott race however given the margins of 10k voters do you really think there are enough workers at the NASA centers who would vote according to their jobs interest set to have swung the election to Nelson? Furthermore, I’m sure there were more than 10k workers at the NASA centers who know that the Republicans have no intention of shrinking the government, and will vote their party anyway because they want a righty to grow the government instead of a lefty.

  • Tom Billings

    “…. do you really think there are enough workers at the NASA centers who
    would vote according to their jobs interest set to have swung the
    election to Nelson?”

    At the Centers alone? No.

    However, the contractors nearby often outnumber the Center workers, and both sets have voting family. Then there are those who benefit simply through the community being flooded with money from all those high-paying jobs, and those who bought houses at high prices looking at drops in local housing prices. There are many beneficiaries of a Congress member, who do not realize it, until they are about to lose that benefit. However, *something* neutralized that in at least 2 cases, and as I said, may have washed over to harm Rohrabacher elsewhere.

    It *may* simply be that there is a developing disconnect with NASA in the country, because of the history of things like the Shuttle and SLS/Orion, and all the rest of it, that has brought out more responding to the anti-space ads run by their opponents. Those numbers *may* be large enough to overwhelm any possible pro-spaceflight vote.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    I understand you do public outreach on space, so you are probably plugged into that subject better than I am. I would not think it would figure into many peoples votes. And the contractors I’ve worked with in the past have pretty much zero understanding of how policy links to their job. So if you’re right, that’s pretty fascinating that space might be leaking into the public sphere in a way that matters. I can’t think of anyone in my current sphere of people who I’m in touch with who don’t consider space who even understands that the US cant sent people into space, or even understand with the ISS is or what the set of events of the past 30 years were. When I tell them I work in astronomy, almost to a T they’ll ask if I’ve seen a UFO. It’s pretty stark out there in my experience.

  • Emmet Ford

    I did not see any space related attack ads aimed at Nelson. I gather that Culbertson’s opponent did make his enthusiasm about space exploration a campaign issue. That is sad, and I hope it had no effect, but maybe it did. Did space get weaponized against Rohrabacher? I know Russia did. I also know that all the other Orange County Republican congresscritters lost their seats, despite their lack of interest in space.

    Space is not important to most people. They do not care. That’s why the NASA mafia in Congress can do as they please. No one else cares. Most people don’t even know. We still send people to space? What are you talking about? Obama ended the space program, didn’t he?

    The average IQ is 100, and half the country is fighting valiantly against the Flynn effect in an effort to preserve their way of life. The other half suspects that the space program is just the lipstick on the military-industrial pig, but at least they get some science out of it. This spectrum of opinion stretches from ambivalence to indifference to ignorance. These are not the sorts of sentiments that get out the vote.

  • duheagle

    All the anti-Rohrabacher TV ads I saw were heavy on the “space cadet” thing. So, yeah, it had an effect. On Culberson too, I should think.

    That said, changing demographics had an effect too. It might have been the anti-space theme was just another way of pointing out that both men were white without coming right out and making a nakedly tribal appeal. I think the Democrats have been doing a pretty good job of implying that space is Stuff White People Like.

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    Good riddance, that guy was about as behind the times as the SSMEs he has been pushing with SLS. I love how his stock photo is 20 years out of date, covering his current emaciated look.

  • redneck

    So, have you seen a UFO? 🙂

  • delphinus100

    Thank you. I came to understand most of this as a kid in the Mercury days (most people were not as interested in this stuff as I was), and nothing has happened since, to change that observation…

  • ThomasLMatula

    Yes, that seems to be an emerging theme among the social justice advocates. The movie “First Man” seems to follow in that pattern, both from the scene of Neil Armstrong’s wife attacks on the program being about just a “bunch of boys with toys” to the featuring of Gil Scott-Heron’s poem “Whitey on the Moon”. Both emphasis the old theme that is foolish to spend money on space while their are unsolved problems on Earth with a new twist to it, that space exploration is just an extension of western imperialism.

  • publiusr

    That’s sad.