The candidates for U.S. Senate in Florida are both focusing on a fast-growing group of Puerto Rican voters who resettled in the state after fleeing Hurricane Maria in 2017, The Hill reported.
Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who is term-limited as governor, is taking on Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., for the Senate role, and Scott has shown surprising strength with Puerto Ricans due to his engagement with that community, The Hill noted.
Puerto Ricans can register to vote in Florida as soon as they arrive, since they are already U.S. citizens, and they typically favor Democrats. President Donald Trump is also highly unpopular among Puerto Ricans, amid criticism that he provided a mediocre response to Hurricane Maria, according to The Hill.
An estimated 40,000 Puerto Ricans have resettled in Florida, the report said.
Scott has made Puerto Rico a central part of his campaign, has visited the island six times since September, and announced that he supports the island's bid for statehood, the website noted.
While Scott, a close ally of the president, has distanced himself from Trump on Puerto Rico, Democrats believe they can educate voters on Scott's record and tie him to Trump.
About three-quarters of voters have a favorable opinion of Scott, while 62 percent have a favorable opinion of Nelson. Three-quarters of Puerto Ricans hold a negative view of Trump, The Hill reported.
"What we want to make sure is that our Puerto Rican friends understand that elections have consequences," Nelson said, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
"They know how they've been treated by President Trump. They remember the images of President Trump throwing paper towels into the crowd as his way of serving the people who were hurting at the time. So, we're going to remind them of that."
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