Florida Republican Governor Scott expected to launch Senate run

Published April 9, 2018, 9:33 PM

by Roel Tibay

By Reuters

Florida Republican Governor Rick Scott is expected on Monday to announce he’s running for the US Senate, challenging Democrat Bill Nelson in a race expected to be among the most competitive contests to decide which party controls Congress.

Florida Governor Rick Scott announced plans to station a police officer at every public school in the state
Florida Governor Rick Scott

Scott scheduled a 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT) announcement on his Facebook page, where he is expected to kick off his campaign against Nelson, first elected in 2000 and currently the only Democrat holding statewide office in Florida.

The move has been widely expected, which Scott noted in an interview with Politico on Sunday. “You’re probably surprised, but I’m going to announce I’m running for senator,” Scott told Politico. “You’re shocked, right?”

State Democrats regarded the wealthy governor, who is barred by law from running for a third term, as enough of a threat that the party has scheduled press conferences with elected Democrats around the state later in the day to make a case against electing Scott to the Senate.

Republicans have for years controlled the state government, and Trump won Florida in 2016 with Scott’s support.

Nelson is one of 10 Democratic senators up for re-election this year in states won by Trump. While he is not seen as the most vulnerable incumbent, every competitive Senate race matters since Republicans hold a one-vote majority in the chamber.

Like Trump, Scott entered politics from the business world, having amassed a personal fortune as a healthcare executive. He dipped into his wealth to help finance his campaigns, winning the governorship in 2010 and 2014 by about one percent of the vote.

Nelson has been a fixture in Florida politics for decades. He rose from the state legislature to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives and has held state cabinet posts.

In his last election in 2012, Nelson earned 55 percent of the vote, outperforming former Democratic President Barack Obama in Florida.

Democrats in the state often struggle with turnout in midterm elections, but polls and recent special elections suggest that opposition to Trump this year is galvanizing the party’s base.

Early polling has shown a competitive match-up between Nelson and Scott, whose national profile rose in the gun control debate that followed the shooting deaths of 17 people in February at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.