A new Fox News report confirms what many Democrats are privately saying around Florida and in Washington, Governor Rick Scott is running circles around Senator Bill Nelson for the U.S. Senate seat up for grabs in November. Nelson, who has served in the Senate for nearly two decades, is the last Democrat holding statewide office in Florida. He’s been able to hold the seat against the Republican tide primarily because of weaker GOP opponents (Bill McCollum, Katherine Harris and Connie Mack IV).
2018 is different
Rick Scott is completing two successful terms as Florida governor, overseeing impressive job growth and a 47-year low in crime. Simply enough, Scott’s done the job he said he would do.
The Florida race is critical for Democratic efforts to try and wrestle away control of the United States Senate from Republicans. Both sides know it. For that reason, this may be the most expensive Senate race in Florida history. Be prepared to see plenty of TV commercials from both candidates and third party committees.
Scott and his affiliated PAC has aired 10 TV commercials spending nearly $20 million since he announced his candidacy 8 weeks ago, including this new ad released Wednesday that hits Nelson for his undistinguished record.
In contrast, Bill Nelson has run one online ad. Nelson is likely savings his money until the fall, a traditional approach to running a general election campaign.
However, Scott’s preemptive campaign allows him to do two things: define Nelson as a do-nothing Senator whose accomplishments are thin in his 18 years in Washington, and give Scott the lead in most polls. Granted, it’s going to be a tight race. A new Florida Chamber of Commerce survey released this week shows Governor Scott with a five point lead, while an AARP poll has Scott’s lead at just one.
All this being said, there’s plenty of time between now and November and, without a doubt, the Democrats will double down on their efforts to keep Nelson in that seat. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee recently made a $2.2 million ad buy. If the first two months of Scott’s campaign are an indication, however, it’ll be difficult for Nelson to outwork the Governor Scott.