Florida Governor Rick Scott to Challenge Democratic Senator Bill Nelson


Florida Governor Rick Scott has announced his entrance into the 2018 Senate race setting Democrat Bill Nelson in his sights in what will be one of the highest profile races in 2018. Scott made the announcement during interviews and on his Facebook page yesterday, ending months of speculation that the two term Florida governor would be trying to unseat the embattled senior Senator from Florida.

“I never planned to fit in, and I won’t fit in in Washington, either,” Scott said in a video making the announcement. “It’s time to shake that place up. We don’t need another politician in Washington. It’s full of politicians, and that’s why it’s broken.”

The announcement was welcome news for the Republican Party after several special election losses last year and a new congressional map drawn in Pennsylvania that many believe gives a slight edge to Democrats in the race for seats.

Scott, who enjoys a close relationship with President Donald Trump, insists he will be his own man. “I consider myself Rick Scott. I don’t consider myself any type of anything,” Scott said when asked if he considers himself a “Donald Trump Republican.” Asked whether he wanted the President to campaign on his behalf, Scott demurred.

“I’m going to campaign for this job. I know there are going to be people that like what I’m saying. There are going to be people who don’t like what I’m saying,” Scott said. “Let’s go back to 2010. No one, I don’t believe hardly anybody, endorsed me in 2010. Did that faze me? No. Whether they do or whether they don’t, I’m doing what I believe in.”

“I’ve always run every race like there’s no tomorrow — regardless of my opponent,” Florida Bill Nelson said in a statement responding to Governor Scott’s announcement. “While it’s clear that Rick Scott will say or do anything to get elected, I’ve always believed that if you just do the right thing, the politics will take care of itself.”

The GOP believes that Scott’s challenge will force Nelson, and the Democratic Party to use many more resources than they otherwise would in order to keep his seat. Republicans hope that will prevent Democrats from allocating resources to other campaigns, making it likely the race will have implications far beyond Florida’s borders.

Democrats currently hold ten seats in states that Donald Trump won in 2016, but Republicans hold the majority in the Senate by a 51-49 margin. There are ten Democratic seats being contested this year, but the map favors Republicans. Should Democrats retake control of the Senate it would make it difficult for President Trump to pass any kind of legislation in the remaining two years of his term.

Democrats have already begun to attack Scott’s record in an ad detailing how he cut education funding and raised property taxes, while cutting taxes for businesses. The ads are being funded by the Chuck-Schumer-aligned Senate Majority PAC and the buy is said to be in the “six figures.”

The PAC is promising to paint Scott as a political opportunist. “History has proven that if you want to predict how Rick Scott will act, figure out what will benefit his political career and his bank account,” said J.B. Poersch, the Super Pac’s President.

Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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