WASHINGTON, (WCJB)-- Former Florida Senator Bill Nelson is sounding off about the current political climate.
TV20 Washington correspondent, Alana Austin, sat down with Nelson in an exclusive interview with reflections on last year's campaign season and life after Congress.
Since his election defeat, Bill Nelson is spending more time with his family, getting back into his exercise routine and reflecting.
After nearly half a century in office, Nelson, a Democrat, says hyper-partisanship is poisoning politics.
"People have got to come together," said Nelson.
In this first interview since leaving office, Bill Nelson says he looks forward to the chapter ahead but offers a warning. "I have never seen it so ideologically driven and so excessively partisan-driven, and America can't function like this."
Nelson lost his seat in last year's highly competitive election against then-republican Governor Rick Scott calls for more civility in politics.
"Life is not 'R' or 'D' it's not red or blue, it's USA. It's red, white, and blue, and ultimately, we're going to have to change," said Nelson.
The 2018 elections in Florida were full of controversy with both sides raising serious concerns with how the voting process played out.
In the end, Nelson lost by a mere 10,000 votes.
Now he urges Florida's state lawmakers to reform the election systems.
Nelson said, "I think that there were a lot of questions. Now would that have changed the outcome…I don't know the answer to that."
Nelson says he's going to be a strong voice for issues he cares about, like the environment, LGBT rights, national security and as a former astronaut, the future of space.
"What a wonderful privilege that I have had of representing our state and our country for all these years and I am very grateful."
Looking ahead, Nelson says Democrats can count on him to campaign for the party's 2020 presidential nominee in one of the country's most important swing states.
For now, Nelson says he's holding off on making an endorsement but believes any of the senate democrats would make a great future U.S. President.