Bill Nelson flips, says he’ll oppose Trump nominee for federal bench

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson

Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson announced this afternoon he will oppose President Donald Trump‘s nomination of Florida Judge Allen Winsor for the federal bench — months after Nelson joined Republican Sen. Marco Rubio in supporting Winsor to the administration.

Winsor has come under attack from liberal groups because, in his role as solicitor general under Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, he defended Florida’s voter-approved ban on gay marriages before it was eventually overturned.

After working for Bondi, Winsor was appointed in 2016 to the Tallahassee-based First District Court of Appeal by Gov. Rick Scott — who is challenging Nelson for Senate this year. Trump nominated Winsor for a vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida.

The Associated Press reports that under Florida’s nominating process, judicial candidates are evaluated by a committee that sends them on to the state’s two senators. Both Nelson and Rubio recommended Winsor and three other names to Trump. Nelson spokesman Ryan Brown told the AP that Nelson and his staff interviewed Winsor before his name was submitted to the president.

In a statement today, Nelson said: “Because of the information brought up by the Senate Judiciary Committee, I will vote against the confirmation of Allen Winsor. For years, Florida’s two senators have relied on a bipartisan Judicial Nominating Commission to select our state’s judicial nominees. This system, which was designed to take politics out of the process, only works if Florida’s two senators agree to respect the commission’s choices and jointly send the names they choose to the White House for consideration. This is exactly what we did in the case of Allen Winsor.”

Nelson did not specify what the information brought up by the Judiciary Committee was.

Scott’s campaign, which has already been branding Nelson a “party-line” politician, slammed Nelson’s announcement today.

“Bill Nelson is so partisan that a small group of out-of-state Democrats can force him to vote against a Floridian that he interviewed, recommended and supported,” said Scott campaign spokeswoman Lauren Schenone. “Despite claiming to be independent, Bill Nelson’s own actions show that when Democrats like party boss Chuck Schumer say ‘jump,’ Nelson’s only question is ‘how high?’”