While Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Oklahoma, awaits a Senate floor vote on his nomination to be NASA administrator, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, continues to express doubts about him. While the entire Democratic membership of the Senate Commerce Committee voted against Bridenstine’s nomination, he passed on a party-line vote. How the vote will stack up on the floor, likely to come after the Thanksgiving recess, is uncertain.

What are Rubio’s reservations about Bridenstine?

Rubio is repeating, almost verbatim, the talking points being made by Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, about Bridenstine. The gentleman is too much of a politician.

NASA needs a “professional” to lead it. That person must “command respect” of the space agency’s workforce and must be able to work with Congress on a bi-partisan basis. The fact that Rubio, a Republican, is taking direction from Nelson, a hyper-partisan Democrat, is a little eyebrow raising.

The real reason that Rubio is balking at Bridenstine likely stems from the 2016 campaign, when the gentleman from Oklahoma, then a Sen. Ted Cruz supporter, tore into Rubio as being soft on terrorism and illegal immigration. The suspicion on the part of many political observers is that Rubio is expressing lingering hurt feelings from the way he was savaged two years ago. The fact that Bridenstine is Trump’s nominee must also weigh on his mind, as Trump insulted Rubio plenty of times in the Republican debates.

What this means for the floor vote.

Rubio’s opposition does not, by itself, sink Bridenstine’s nomination. If every other Republican senator stands pat, the congressman will pass on a narrow majority. Also, it is by no means certain that every Democrat will vote against him. Bridenstine enjoys some measure of support from some of his fellow Democratic House members with whom he has dealt over the past few years.

What happens after what many still presume to be Bridenstine’s confirmation is also uncertain. Will they engage in mindless opposition to President Trump’s space policies that include a return to the moon and more commercial partnerships? A return to the nasty liberal Democrat opposition to space exploration that adhered for several decades toward the end of Apollo and for long after could be in the offing.

Nelson is also playing a dangerous game. He is up for reelection in 2018 and is likely to face a stiff challenge from Florida’s current governor Rick Scott. If Nelson’s opposition to Bridenstine is seen as hurting Florida’s space coast around the Kennedy Space Center, it could cost him dearly.