Red Corner: Scott (R) vs. Blue Corner: Nelson (D)
By Pawan Naidu
This race has to be considered the main event for the heavyweight championship. In the blue corner – Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) who has been in the Senate since 2000 and has represented the largest swing state for almost 20 years. In the red corner – Republican Governor, Rick Scott, who has won the gubernatorial election twice in Florida when he was expected to lose both times.
Nelson is what some would call a “dying” breed of politician. He has one of the most conservative voting records of all Democratic senators, and breaks party line regardless if liberals have control of the Senate or not. He has moved more towards the left in recent years, with becoming one of the most prominent voices for increased national gun control after the Parkland Shooting.
Scott, who has been an underdog since he entered politics in 2010, successfully won election and reelection again in 2014, when both times he was projected to lose. While he has voiced criticism of the president on occasions, he is mostly a Trump supporter. The president endorsed the governor for the Senate race. Scott was at his most popular when his constituents voiced praise for how he handled Hurricane Irma last year. He was proactive in warning and assisting residents before the hurricane hit.
Millions are going to be spent by both sides for the Florida seat. The state is going to be divided on economic and social issues, so expect this to be a close match. After the Parkland shooting, people might think that Nelson has the edge, but Scott bucked his parties wishes and signed gun control measures.
Nelson hasn’t faced a strong opponent in quite some time. In 2006 he won by 22 points when Republicans nominated former Secretary of State Kathleen Harris, who was considered not to have a large enough personality to compete in a national race. In the next Senate election in 2012, the GOP nominated Rep. Connie Mack IV, who faced questions about his hard-partying youth and his recent voting record, which made him an easy opponent for Nelson.
While Scott has won two high-profile elections from the underdog position, he can be considered the most battle-tested of the candidates. Momentum is on his side, with praise of his handling of both Hurricane Irma and the Parkland Shooting.
However, Nelson is an incumbent that has been in the Senate for almost 20 years and he’s not going to be easy to beat. He also has two sweeping victories in the state, meaning he knows how to win.
It going to be close, but Scott’s momentum might be too much for Nelson to defend.
Prediction: Scott +5