Bill Nelson’s Senate loss was an upset that Democrats did not expect to get hit with, and it seems that NASA and the Kennedy Space Center are also feeling the effects of the loss as they turn their sights to find a new lawmaker that embrace the same level of support that Nelson did.
James Muncy, a space policy consultant, commented that “Some NASA leaders have had Bill Nelson on their speed dial, and he was always the first person they would call to get help on something. They’re going to have to make new friends now, they’re going to have to build new alliances.”
Nelson’s loss came as a result of a razor-thin margin, and he was a member of committees that were critically important relating to NASA. As a former member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation committee, Florida had influence in debates relating to space policy. The committee is in charge of recommending budgets and setting NASA policy, so the question posed is whether or not another Floridian lawmaker will continue to lead the sunshine state’s arguments in debates.
Jeff Bingham, a former director of the committee’s space staff, praised Nelson by noting that “He’s been a terrific champion not only for Kennedy Space Center but the space enterprise across the board. They made it really easy for us staffers to work across party lines and come up with the kind of legislation that we needed when we needed it.”
However, others believe that Governor Scott will be better at filling the seat.
Bob Walker, who served in the House of Representatives with Senator Bill Nelson, detailed that “Bill Nelson was very much wedded to a lot of the traditional NASA programs and the traditional NASA contractors, but that is not the wave of the future. It’s clear that it is the commercial space guys who are being more innovative at the present time, and this president wants NASA to embrace that kind of new direction and use it as an underpinning for its science and exploration programs.”