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Rick Scott Jumps in Against Bill Nelson so Let's Get Ready to Rumble

April 9, 2018 - 9:15am
Bill Nelson and Rick Scott
Bill Nelson and Rick Scott

Rick Scott is off and running against Bill Nelson as the Republican looks to claim the Holy Grail of Florida politics: moving from the Governor’s Mansion to the U.S. Senate.

As the governor starts his Senate bid on Monday, history isn’t exactly on Scott’s side. Only three governors in Florida history ever made it to the Senate after their time in Tallahassee:  Spessard Holland, Bob Graham and Napoleon Bonaparte Broward who died before he could take his Senate seat. 

Of course, there are plenty of governors who failed trying to make the leap to Washington. Even some of the best regarded governors in Florida history like Reubin Askew and LeRoy Collins failed in their Senate bids.  Looking back at Florida history, governors like Farris Bryant, Fred Cone, David Sholtz, Doyle Carlton and John W. Martin crashed and burned when they sought a Senate seat.  More recently, so did Charlie Crist though he did manage to claim a House seat two years ago. Lawton Chiles is the only Florida politician to ever win the governorship after serving in the Senate. 

There’s plenty of reasons for why governors generally fail when they try to move onto the Senate. While his look at Florida in “Southern Politics in State and Nation” is certainly dated, V.O. Key was spot on with some of his points about the Sunshine State. Florida’s geography and demographics make it near impossible for a politician to stay atop the state for too long a period of time. There’s simply too many new voters scattered across ten or more markets for anyone to remain in the saddle for too long. Just ask Jeb Bush who clearly lost out his “Florida’s favorite Republican” title in the last presidential election. Even Nelson has been impacted by this. It’s why almost every poll shows a quarter of the voters with no opinion on Florida’s senior senator despite having been on the political stage for more than four decades. 

Being stretched out and facing high voter turnover every few years, Florida is almost impossible to politically master. This was true when it was, essentially, a one party state as part of the Democrats’ Solid South. It’s just as true now when presidential and gubernatorial races go down to the wire, even if recent Senate contests haven’t been particularly competitive. 

Key stressed Florida’s unique political culture, insisting the state was “unbossed” and “unled.” That’s still the case today. There are plenty of ticket splitters in Florida which is why Nelson ran ahead of Democrats like Al Gore to Barack Obama. While 2010 and 2014 were banner years for Republicans, Scott barely won both times out. If Scott is going to defeat Nelson, he will have to do better, especially as this looks like a good year for Democrats. 

Scott has plenty going for him, of course: a good record on jobs, the GOP generally being better organized in Florida than the Democrats, the ability to self-fund. Still, Nelson is a survivor who has beaten back challengers before. While Republicans often claim Nelson has never beaten anybody, he defeated Bill McCollum--who Scott beat in the primary back in 2010--and Connie Mack who worked closely with Mitt Romney’s team and was pegged as a rising star before Nelson crushed him in 2012. 

In the meantime, the Sunshine State should get ready for a battle between two electoral heavyweights in Nelson and Scott which is going to overshadow everything else in Florida politics. With Scott leaving Tallahassee, there are competitive primaries on both sides of the aisle and some interesting Cabinet races shaping up. None of them, including the gubernatorial contest, are getting much attention. They’re all lost in the shadow of the Senate race and that will only continue as Scott comes out of his corner to start the main event. 

Comments

I hope you win

RICK SCOTT 2018 !!!

Bill Nelson voted to shutdown the federal government to protect illegal immigrants and not US citizens! He cares much more about illegals than US Citizens. This is a discrace for any US Senator but particularly for Florida as we have a huge number of illegals. How much would violent crime go down if they were not here and supported by Senator Nelson.

Why would any American vote for a gun control oath breaker like Scott?

In the end Billy goes into well deserved retirement. He has been useless as a sitting senator and when he is interviewed he sounds like he is about going to keel over. This will be close but Billy may have run once too many times.

great, a criminal and a grandpa. I'll choose the grandpa by default...

Fly away "Senator Zippy"; your ""rocketship" awaits your entry into "deep space"... "FULL SPEED AHEAD MISTER SOOLOO!!!

Voted for Scott two times, as nobody worthwhile was running against him. Not this time. As much as I don't like Nelson, I dislike Scott more.

Great News! Governor Scott is a Statesman and will do an Excellent job as a United States Senator from Florida just as he has been one of the best Governors in the history of the State of Florida. The numbers do not lie. Keep up the great work!

Great Scott,is a true winner,all in for Senator Scott and Florida.

Get rid of the old fart Nelson! And Rick Scott, we expect you to clean up our waters !

Colleena, take a look at who the polluters support. Keep voting for Big Sugar and you will keep the Big Algae.

Glad to see it made official. There can be no other candidate running who can win and continue to ensure Florida benefits fully from the Trump Agenda than our own own Gov Scott. I don't know what the other side is so upset about. We've had nothing but positive results from the President's actions. Really a shame that the media is so lame on reporting facts. I've yet to see one fact presented in this Comment forum that can be verified that shows harm has come to the pubic due to Trump policy being implemented. It is all positive as far as I can ascertain. Sure would be nice to see policy and issues discussed backed up with facts that can be independently verified. The "hate" comes through so clearly and overshadows any sanity that might remain under all that negative emotion. Such a shame that discourse has come to this low point in our country's history.

LMAO....now Billy Nelson's Skeltons will come out ...and Media cant help him....THE TRUE BILLY wannabe AstroNUT.....Space Shuttle Obama & Billy...Lie's on Space Program...RIP billy...

'Shouldabenafelon' Scott has been a scourge on this state! Absolutely THE WORST I've seen in all my years here! ANYBODY but Scott!

Rick Scott has been the DESTROYER of Florida's environment. He has worked to relax regulations allowing unlimited pumping of water for Big Ag and developers. He has wasted millions and millions of taxpayer dollars fighting unconstitutional actions his administration has spearheaded. He has taken away funding for education and teachers pay and giving away tax payer dollars to private schools. He has continued to hold his money and investments in accounts that in any other administration would have led to demands for him to step down. He has put his cronies into top regulatory positions so that they can work from inside to totally destroy our protections for children and the poor. If elected to senate, he will only continue to back laws that line his own pockets and to hell with the people of Florida. VOTE BILL NELSON!

Absolutely on the mark, Pam! And should Scott win ... he'll become just another hellish creature in Trump's 'New Swamp'!

You go Rick, send Bill Nelson into retirement. Please, It's about time and Rick Scott has been a great governor for Florida.

You go Rick, send Bill Nelson into retirement. Please, It's about time and Rick Scott has been a great governor for Florida.

out come the wing nuts for both Dumb and Dumber...

I THINK GOVENOR RICK SCOTT HAS DONE A TREMENDOUS JOB FOR FLORIDA. ME AND MY LOVED ONE HAVE PLANS TO BECOME LIFETIME FLORIDIANS. I DO NOT THINK BILL NELSON SHOULD GET ANY FLORIDIANS VOTE, AS HE WOULD UNRAVEL THE WORK OF GOVERNOR RICK SCOTT, AND TURN FLORIDA INTO A SLOP SHOP. NO, WE ALL NEED A BALANCED LIFE AND BILL NELSON IS NOT IT. FLORIDA EVEN THOUGH AS IT'S ROUGH SPOTS LIKE ANY PLACE, IT IS STILL A LAND OF ENCHANTMENT AND INSPIRATION, AND BILL NELSON WOULD JUST DESTROY THE STATE OF FLORIDA.

YOU'RE TOO NUTTY EVEN FOR FREAKY FLORIDA, ORC! STAY WHERE YOU ARE!

FLORIDA IS NOT FREAKY, BUT MAY BE YOU ARE. PREHAPS YOU SHOULD MOVE TOO. YOU MOST LIKELY WOULD BE HAPPY LIVING IN A DUMP OR A TRASH CAN. FLORIDIANS DO TAKE MORE PRIDE THAN MOST, BUT APPARENTLY YOU DO NOT. HEY, THERE ARE PLACES FOR YOU TOO.

ORC, are you suggesting that after representing Florida in the United States Senate for 18 years that Senator Nelson if re-elected would destroy Florida? After 40 years of public service to the people of Florida, what do you think would cause this 180 degree turn? How does a United States Senator unravel the work of a state governor?

What a pessimistic article against Scott! Careful Derby, you attempt to be subtle, but your Bias is still showing. Go Scott!!

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