As a fifth-generation Floridian, Bill’s roots run deep in Florida. Bill grew up just a few miles from where he would one day launch into space as a crew member on the Space Shuttle Columbia; an experience that would forever change his perspective and outlook on public service.
Bill’s father died when he was 14. As an only child, Bill immediately shouldered extra responsibility to ensure he and his mother would get by. That drive, commitment, and sense of responsibility for others transformed into a life devoted to public service. From president of 4-H to president of the Key Club in high school, Bill has always known the importance of investing in your neighbors and community to create a better future.
Bill continued to serve his community and country while in college at the University of Florida, Yale, and University of Virginia Law School through various service organizations, school leadership positions, and enlisting in the Army.
In 1971, Bill met Grace Cavert of Jacksonville, Florida, while speaking at a statewide young leader convention. Grace has been an active partner in Bill’s public service career. From his first race for a seat in the Florida Legislature, Grace has been by his side knocking on doors and talking to folks about issues that mattered to them and their families. They have two grown children, Bill Jr. and Nan Ellen.
Bill has earned a reputation as a consensus builder and problem-solver.
He puts Florida’s future first every day by consistently being a moderate voice in an increasingly partisan environment.
The St. Petersburg Times wrote: “Bill Nelson fits the mold of responsible moderation” and “has proved himself in the battle with special interests.” And the Orlando Sentinel stated: “Mr. Nelson has a sense of independence. Although he often agrees with Democrats, ultimately, his conscience dictates his course.”
Bill Nelson always fights for Florida’s interests.
As a key member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Bill has been instrumental in ensuring Florida’s military bases and operations have the resources they need to protect our nation. He has also taken every opportunity to fight to improve the lives of our state’s many veterans.
Florida is home to some of the most unique natural landscapes in the world. From the white sand beaches to the Everglades, Bill is unrelenting in protecting Florida’s environment and economy. For his entire career, Bill has been a staunch foe of the big oil companies that want to drill off the coast. Florida’s tourism-driven economy and national security are dependent on keeping oil rigs off our coasts.
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Bill knows the foundation for Florida’s future success is education.
Bill has been a fierce advocate for Florida’s public education system; ensuring that every Florida student has access to a free, quality education and that teachers have the resources they need to provide it.
As the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, Bill has been a vocal proponent for STEM career training and education programs so that Florida remains at the forefront of American ingenuity, in order to not only create, but fill the jobs of the future. He has also used his role to ensure that after the retirement of the shuttle, that Florida’s Space Coast remained vibrant and an epicenter for the commercial space industry.
Always on Bill’s mind are the state’s many seniors.
He’s been an unwavering defender of Social Security, and he has resisted the wrong-headed attempts by some politicians to put the retirement of millions of Americans into risky investments. Bill believes that everyone deserves to retire with dignity, and that the protection of programs such as Medicare and Social Security are fundamental to guaranteeing that future for seniors.
Never afraid to stand up to special interests or to bring everyone to the table, the hallmark of Bill’s public service has been his willingness to defend all Floridians, at all costs.