Next year’s Senate race in Florida is expected to be closer than ever if it is between the current U.S. Senator Bill Nelson and his expected challenger Governor Rick Scott.
The Democratic party is already showing signs of being nervous for this state’s upcoming election. Nelson is one of the 10 Democratic senators up for re-election in states where the majority voted for President Donald Trump.
It appears that the battle against Scott has already started.
“Democrats have been targeting Scott as if he’s already an announced candidate. They’re airing digital ad buys against the Republican, launching early voter registration drives and coordinating sometimes-fractious progressive groups to boost Democratic voter turnout — a strategy that’s paid dividends in two local elections,” writes Politico. “The all-hands-on-deck response to Nelson’s request speaks to the deep concerns among Democratic activists and elites worried about the three-term senator’s lagging fundraising and the difficulty of motivating Democratic voters in off-year elections. Nelson — who took a month off from fundraising amid the recent hurricanes — is redoubling his efforts to fill his campaign coffers, notably with a series of fundraisers headlined by one of the party’s rising stars, California Sen. Kamala Harris.”
A recent poll by the Florida Atlantic University shows that Nelson is only up by 2% against Scott in a hypothetical matchup.
In another poll by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Scott was ahead by 2%.
Scott has been in the limelight as of late due to being the public face of recent hurricane response in Florida.
“The job he’s done is incredible,” said Trump about his response to the recent hurricanes. “I hope this man right here, Rick Scott, runs for the Senate.”
While Nelson critcized Scott’s efforts in regards to eight deaths at a nursing home.
“Why there is not a requirement that every nursing home or assisted living facility, an ALF, have a generator, not only for power, for things like lights, but have a generator capacity that will run air conditioning units, why there is not a requirement for that in Florida I think is going to be the subject of great debate and I hope to change that requirement in the state of Florida because eight people died. Eight people died in a nursing home right across the street from a major hospital in Hollywood, Florida. Eight frail elderly from ages 70 to 99, eight needless deaths as a result — we will know — a criminal investigation is underway,” said Nelson.
“All the phone calls that had been made that were not answered, both to the government as well as to the power company, as reported by the press — specifically a Miami television station. We don’t know all the facts. It’ll come out in the criminal investigation.”
But, Scott won’t be running for governor again due to term limits. He also hasn’t announced if he will be running for the Senate spot.
“As of the second fundraising quarter this summer, Nelson had just $5 million in the bank. Scott has about $3 million in his political committee, but he’s allowed to raise bigger chunks of money from corporate interests under state law as long as he’s not a federal candidate,” writes Politico.
But, in the past, voters in Florida usually vote against the president’s party.
“Voters in those 10 Trump states — particularly Florida — have a tendency to vote against the president’s party in Senate elections over the last 50 years. If that trend holds, it’s good news for Nelson, who could face a strong challenge from Republican Gov. Rick Scott,” writes the Palm Beach Post. “In 17 Senate elections since 1966, Florida voters have chosen the nominee of the president’s party only 5 times — 29.4 percent.”
Nelson defied these odds by winning his seat in 2000 when Bill Clinton was president and then again in 2012 with Barack Obama as president.
Author’s note: With Scott’s recent popularity with the public and the president, he has a good chance of winning. Also, since there are 10 incumbent Democrat senators in states that Trump won, it may make more sense for the Democrats to focus on the smaller states that are cheaper to campaign in. So Nelson may not get to funding he needs to win. This would be a huge win for Republicans, but it’s really too soon to tell who will be elected the Florida Senate seat.