Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) on Monday announced his official bid for the US Senate – a move that will put him into direct competition with incumbent Bill Nelson, a Democrat.
“I will bust my butt to win this election,” said Scott to a cheering audience in Orlando. “We have to all acknowledge: Washington’s a disaster, it’s dysfunctional. There’s a lot of old tired thinking up there.”
Scott pointedly avoided mentioning Trump during his speech. When asked by reporters if he considers himself a “Trump Republican,” Scott said, “I consider myself Rick Scott. I don’t consider myself any type of anything.”
2018 is shaping up to be a rough year for Republicans, but Scott’s announcement could bring some relief. Not only does Scott’s bid represent a pick-up opportunity for the GOP, but it also diverts precious resources the Democrats could have used against other incumbents and challengers.
The Scott v. Nelson race is predicted to be one of the most expensive Senate races in history.
Scott himself is a multi-millionaire. Rumor has it he dumped up to $22 million of his own funds into his re-election campaign in 2014. In addition to his own money, Scott could see support from:
- The New Republican PAC, of which Scott is a former chairman
- The pro-Trump America First Action Super PAC, whose leader Brian Walsh told CNBC the group was still deciding on whether to support Scott
- The Senate Leadership Fund, which for months has been attacking Nelson for voting against the GOP tax reform bill passed last year
Nelson is more than ready to match Scott’s impressive funding capabilities. His 2018 campaign has already raised $10 million, including big donations from Senate Victory 2018 and Regions Bank. Nelson also has support from powerful corporations including Walt Disney, American Airlines, and Harris.
Nelson will likely see support from the Senate Majority PAC, which on Sunday released an attack ad against Scott accusing him of defrauding taxpayers during his time as CEO of Columbia/HCA and, while governor, slashing education funding while raising taxes.
Democrats have branded Scott as selfish, dishonest, and greedy and have accused him of using his position as governor to make himself richer. They have also criticized his response to the Parkland shooting and the recent bridge collapse near FIU.
“Scott’s self-serving political brand, his administration’s failures, and a hostile political environment will all cripple his campaign,” argues Mindy Myers, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Scott, 65, was elected governor of the Sunshine State in 2010 as part of the tea party movement. It was his first time running for office. He ran for re-election in 2014, defeating former Florida Governor Charlie Crist.
Editor’s note: This is a likely win for Republicans, and could be a major event in the 2018 elections. 23 of the 33 Senate election involve a Democrat as incumbent. This means the odds are more likely that more Democrats will fall than Republicans.