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Calls For Sen. Nelson To Fight AG Nominee

From a sit-in Tuesday in Alabama to sign-waving protestors Wednesday outside Tampa's federal courthouse, there appears to be a ground swell of people objecting to President-Elect Donald Trump's nominee for Attorney General, U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL).

Human rights advocates, women’s organizations and progressive groups merged on the Tampa office of U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) because they want Florida’s senior senator to lead the fight against Sessions.

Nearly a dozen groups laid out a case against Sessions becoming the country’s top attorney.

“His record of racist statements and sentiments dating back to 1986 when he was rejected as a federal judge for his support of the Ku Klux Klan and his comments that the NAACP and ACLU were un-American and communistic,” said Marcia Cohen, who sits on the Pinellas ACLU legal panel.

But it isn’t just Sessions’ past racial insensitivity like prosecuting civil rights advocates that Toni Van Pelt objects to, it’s the Alabama senator’s recent voting record.

“He’s voted against re-authorizing the Violence Against Women Act in the past couple of years,” Van Pelt said. “He voted against the Voting Rights Act reauthorization.”

So, the coalition came to Nelson’s office to deliver a message.

“We need him to fight that these are not normal times,” said Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida.

Credit Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media
WUSF Public Media
More than 30 people demonstrated outside Sen. Bill Nelson's Tampa office hoping that he'll fight the nominee for attorney general a fellow senator from Alabama.

Despite being in the minority party, Smith believes Nelson can persuade his senate colleagues to postpone Sessions’ hearing or vote him down.

“Sen. Nelson, perhaps more other Democrats because of his reputation because of his history, can be a voice that pricks the conscious of his colleagues on the other side of the aisle,” Smith said.

Nelson's Office says the senator "is reserving judgment on Sen. Sessions’ nomination to be Attorney General until after the hearings are complete."

Nelson’s office released a statement that the senator “is reserving judgment … until after the hearings are complete.”

Bobbie O’Brien has been a Reporter/Producer at WUSF since 1991. She reports on general news topics in Florida and the Tampa Bay region.
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