The Only Trump-State Democrat Awaiting a Major Challenge

Bill Nelson is likely to face a Rick Scott next year, but it’s not official yet.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott talks to the media outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington, Friday, Sept. 29, 2017, after a he had lunch with President Donald Trump Vice President Mike Pence.
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
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Kimberly Railey
Nov. 13, 2017, 9:46 a.m.

Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida is the only Democratic senator from a state President Trump won who still lacks a major Republican challenger.

That’s because Gov. Rick Scott has completely frozen the field before, as most expect, he eventually launches a Senate campaign. Anticipation for his eventual bid only grew recently when Scott passed on chairing the Republican Governors Association next year—a job he was in line for but that would create legal and logistical hurdles for a Senate candidate.

Scott’s candidacy would force national Democrats to grapple with difficult spending questions on a defense-heavy map. The two-term governor has dumped millions of his own money into past campaigns, and Democrats could struggle to keep pace in the prohibitively expensive state. Several polls have shown tight match-ups between Nelson and Scott, and the governor has received high marks for his Hurricane Irma response.

For those reasons, the governor can afford to delay entering the race. But if he ultimately took a pass, it would leave Republicans scrambling to recruit a candidate who could quickly raise money.

Kimberly Railey


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