In what likely was a surprise to virtually no one in Florida, Governor Rick Scott announced his next political campaign on Monday at an Orlando construction firm.
Scott, in his trademark sky blue shirt and Navy baseball cap, said he’ll seek the Republican nomination in hopes of challenging incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson. Scott’s “Let’s Get to Work” mantra, used in two gubernatorial campaigns, will transfer to this race.
“Now we’ve got to take that same mission to D.C.,” said Scott amid applause from supporters. “We’ve got to take that same ‘can do’ attitude, that it doesn’t matter what the naysayers say; doesn’t matter what the critics say. If you ignore them, think of what you could accomplish.”
The campaign according to Charles Zelden,a political scientist at Nova Southeastern University, likely will be one of the most closely watched races in the country and could help determine which party controls the Senate after the November 6 election.
“You’ve got a sitting governor going against a [sic] incumbent senator from a very large state,” said Zelden. “Republicans need to pick up seats; they’re likely to lose a couple of seats in other states. Picking up Florida goes a long way to maintaining their majority.”
Zelden concedes this may not be the best timing for Scott, in building a Senate campaign in 2018, during a time Zelden says the winds of politics seem to be blowing in the opposite direction.
“[Scott] still have the advantage of having money to spend, but it does him little good if there’s a massively large turnout among Democratic-leaning voters,” Zelden says. “Which is definitely a possibility and maybe even a likelihood.”
Scott came out swinging against Nelson, who’s 75 and seeking his fourth term, saying he’s a reason why Washington is “horribly dysfunctional.”
“Washington is a disaster; there’s [sic] a lot of old, tired thinking up there, [and] it’s not heading in the right direction,” Scott said. “We shouldn’t be sending the same type of people to Washington. We should say ‘We’re going to make change,’ but we can’t sit here and say we’re going to do the same thing and we’re going to get a different result.”
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,” said Senator Bill Nelson in a written statement.
“I always, when I have an opponent, assume that they are the toughest opponent. And I run like there’s no tomorrow,” Nelson told reporters in Orlando.
Scott's candidacy makes Florida a toss-up state in the battle to control Congress, according to national pundits. He had been urged to challenge Nelson by President Trump.
“A lot of the voters in the [off-year] elections that we’ve been having, what we’ve seen is the enthusiasm and energy is on the Democratic side right now,” said Zelden. “But, Nelson’s going to have to run a good campaign.”
While most everything about the upcoming race is up in the air at this point, Nova Southeastern’s Charles Zelden says two things are for sure. The Nelson-Scott race will be expensive – and nasty.
“It’s Florida, so it’s expensive to begin with – but this is going to be worse,” said Zelden. “Scott generally runs negative when he campaigns, and Nelson is not adverse to that himself. And, this is a ‘grudge match’ election; so I think it’s going to be very negative, very loud.”