The Democrats have been tossed another roadblock in their slim chances of retaking the U.S. Senate majority in November. In a move that will surely cause great commotion in Florida, the current governor, Rick Scott, has thrown his hat into the ring.
Scott is a close ally of President Trump and his decision is seen as a genuine threat to the incumbency of the current senator, Democrat Bill Nelson. There was little chance the Democrats would take control of the Senate in 2018 before the announcement, but this turn of events could play havoc on their minority status.
Scott made the announcement on Monday via a video calling Washington " . . . horribly dysfunctional. Washington is full of old thinking. Washington is tired. And the truth is, both political parties share some of the blame," he said.
The governor is term-limited out and cannot run for his office again.
The news of Scott’s candidacy also puts a burden on the Democratic National Committee's allocation of funds for the various campaign races around the country. The Florida race will be one of the most expensive political campaigns in the country. But as a swing state, it is a vital cog in both party’s future.
Scott’s close relationship with Trump could test the president’s coattail influence for other candidates he could endorse. Will Scott’s alliance with Trump help or harm him in the current political environment?
For Trump, Scott’s candidacy marks months of encouraging the governor to run. Nelson is seeking his fourth term in the nation’s third most populous state.
The future nastiness of the race was evident in Nelson’s words shortly following Scott’s announcement to run. "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," he said.
The GOP holds a narrow 51-to-49 majority in the chamber. The added expense for the party to fund Nelson’s re-election campaign is compiled with the ominous situation the Democrats face.
They must defend 10 seats in states Trump won in 2016, including Florida.
Scott is a popular two-term governor. This will be the 65-year-old’s first run for federal office. He is quick to point out he is more a successful businessman than a politician. As he puts it, "We don’t need any more talkers in Washington, we need some doers."
Nelson most likely will gleefully tie Scott to Trump. Whether that will end up being good or bad remains to be seen. The president’s national numbers, as well as those in Florida, have been steadily creeping higher in the last six months.
Trump urged Scott to run for months. The Florida governor was one of the first politicians to endorse Trump when he ran in 2016. He led a super PAC that supported Trump’s bid.
But the governor is keeping his distance in recent interviews. In a sit-down with Politico.com last Sunday he said, "I consider myself Rick Scott. I don’t consider myself any type of anything, I run on what I believe in. No. I’m Rick Scott. I grew up poor. I believe in jobs," he said.
His opponent is a former astronaut who served more than a decade in the U.S. House and as state treasurer, insurance commissioner, and fire marshal in Florida. Nelson appeals to middle-of-the-road voters. As the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, he met with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg a day before his testimony in Washington.
The Democrats will portray Scott as an evil anti-environmentalist who is in favor of oil drilling off the Florida coast and his decline for expansion of Medicaid in the state. "I mean the list just goes on and on and on," the incumbent senator said.
The Democrats have a theme song "Self-Serving Scott," and a new website claiming "Rick Scott is a self-serving politician who will say and do anything to help himself at Floridians’ expense."
The plan is to portray him as a stereotypical "greedy Republican."
There is little doubt the issue of guns will be a major campaign issue. After the Parkland School shooting in Broward County, Florida, Scott signed new gun regulations into law, defying the National Rifle Association (NRA). Whether that will temper liberal Democrats remains to be seen.
It could alienate votes from conservative Republicans.
Scott may have dodged another bullet from the left when the Trump administration agreed to rule out oil and gas drilling off Florida’s coast. Scott had voiced strong opposition.
The relationship between Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Scott is dubious at best.
Rubio has said some very nice things about Nelson during their time in the Senate together.
On Monday, Rubio Tweeted support for Scott citing the need for a Republican majority.
Scott will travel to Washington next week to raise money for his campaign. It will be interesting to see what part Rubio plays in his visit. It's estimated Scott will need $100 million for the campaign.
Dwight L. Schwab, Jr. is an award-winning national political and foreign affairs columnist and published author. He has spent over 35 years in the publishing industry. His long-running articles include many years at Examiner.com and currently Newsblaze.com. Dwight is an author of two highly acclaimed books, "Redistribution of Common Sense - Selected Commentaries on the Obama Administration 2009-2014" and "The Game Changer - America's Most Stunning Election in History." He is a native of Portland, Oregon, a journalism graduate from the University of Oregon, and a resident of the SF Bay Area. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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