Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott announced Monday that he will challenge Democrat Senator Bill Nelson for his seat. This has the potential to become the biggest midterm race this year.
Late last month, he teased everyone about a big announcement that would happen on April 9. Everyone assumed it’d be about the Senate race.
That’s exactly what happened:
8 years ago today, I did something that everyone told me not to do – I announced that I was running for Governor. With the hard work of Floridians, we have come a long way, but our work is not done. That’s why I have decided to run for the United States Senate. Let’s Get to Work! pic.twitter.com/zirHas1mzR
— Rick Scott (@ScottforFlorida) April 9, 2018
From The Washington Examiner:
During his announcement, Scott called for federal term limits and criticized “career politicians.”
“We’re not going to see a change in Washington if we don’t have term limits on Congress,” he said.
Addressing a crowd in Orlando, Scott also called Florida the “melting pot of the world” and touted his accomplishments as governor.
“People are flocking to Florida because this is where you can live the dream of this country,” Scott said. “… Now we’ve got to take that same mission to D.C.”
Scott spurned the “naysayers” who he said will tell him “you can’t fix Washington,” and recalled hearing the same message when he was elected governor and when he began his career in business.
“We can change Washington. We must change Washington. We will change Washington,” he said. “Together, let’s get Washington to work.”
President Trump has long pushed for Scott to challenge Nelson for the Senate seat. Politico rightly described this race as one that could prove if an alliance with Trump “is political poison or a pathway to success in the nation’s biggest swing state.” The ties between the two men run deep. Scott backed Trump in the 2016 election and also “chaired a super PAC for Trump that raised $20 million.”
However, Scott didn’t tell Politico if he wants Trump to campaign for him. Instead, he insisted that he will “campaign for this job” and “campaign aggressively.”
Scott also told Politico that jobs will remain a priority:
“I run on what I believe in. I’ve been very clear,” Scott told POLITICO Sunday. “People ask me that a bunch of times, about ‘Are you this or are you that?’ No. I’m Rick Scott. I grew up poor. I believe in jobs.”
That line is almost an understatement for Scott: The “jobs” message is the raison d’être for his political identity, born in 2010 when faith in the state and national economy were low and unemployment numbers were high. “Jobs, jobs, jobs” was Scott’s mantra in English and, during phone-banking campaign stops in Miami in 2010 and 2014, in Spanish: “trabajo, trabajo, trabajo.”
“What I focused on when I got elected was getting 700,000 jobs over seven years and changing the direction of the state,” Scott told POLITICO. “And the business community has really shown up. We cut their taxes, reduced regulation and we’ve added right about 1.5 million jobs.”
Politico reported that the majority of “polls taken of the Scott-Nelson race show a tie, with many giving an inside-the-error-margin edge to Nelson.” One shows otherwise:
However, the Republican-affiliated Associated Industries of Florida polling finds that Scott might be leading by as many as seven points.
“While it’s hard to envision any competitive, top ticket race in this state being won by 7 percent, or 500,000 votes, as this sample currently shows the race, it is understandable why the governor has this lead on Nelson with such high job approval, image ratings and positive direction of the state under his watch,” said Ryan Tyson, AIF’s vice president of political operations.
RealClearPolitics has Nelson in the lead:
CNBC reported that Scott has an A+ rating from the NRA, but signed into law new restrictions on gun purchasing and banned bump stocks after Nicholas Cruz killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Scott has experienced a climb in approval ratings:
Scott’s approval rating has climbed in recent months. A February Quinnipiac University poll found 49 percent of Florida voters approve of Scott, compared with 40 percent who disapprove. In the same survey, 42 percent of voters said they approved of Trump, while 54 percent said they disapprove.
Nelson had a 46 percent to 42 percent edge over Scott in the Senate contest, according to the poll. Forty-eight percent of respondents said they approved of Nelson, while 34 percent said they disapproved, according to the survey.
The Democrats have shown some fear in Scott as they’ve spent a long time preparing for his announcement. The Senate Majority PAC pushed out an ad this past weekend “as part of a six-figure campaign this week blasting Scott for cutting businesses’ taxes while raising property taxes and slashing education funding.”
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee executive director Mindy Myers outlined how the party will go after Scott, including describing him as “self-serving and dishonest” and that he is “looking out for himself at Floridians’ expense.” CNN continued:
Myers said Scott’s actions as governor have made him $46 million richer. She also highlighted the deaths of 14 seniors in a nursing home during Hurricane Irma and accused Scott of deflecting blame for the Parkland shooting and the Florida International University bridge collapse that killed six people.
Myers pointed out that Scott’s gubernatorial wins in 2010 and 2014 came in tight races, and that Florida has seen a shift in Democrats’ favor since Trump took office — including wins in the St. Petersburg mayoral race and two hotly contested state legislative special elections.
“Scott’s self-serving political brand, his administration’s failures and a hostile political environment will all cripple his campaign,” Myers said.
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