Gov. Rick Scott will announce his candidacy for the U.S. Senate Monday morning in a much anticipated showdown for the Senate seat held by Democrat Bill Nelson for the past 18 years.
In a midterm election in which President Donald Trump’s presidency is expected to be an issue, Scott has been a supporter of Trump and the president has urged Scott to run for Nelson’s seat.
But, in an interview with Politco on Sunday, Scott insists that while he supports the president, he is his own man.
“I consider myself Rick Scott. I don’t consider myself any type of anything,” the governor told POLITICO in an exclusive interview Sunday when asked if he considers himself a “Donald Trump Republican.”
“I run on what I believe in. I’ve been very clear,” he said. “People ask me that a bunch of times, about ‘Are you this or are you that?’ No. I’m Rick Scott. I grew up poor. I believe in jobs.”
Scott is scheduled to make his announcement official at 10:00 this morning during a news conference televised live from Orlando via his Facebook page.
For Scott, it will be his third election in his political career. A successful, multi-millionaire businessman, Scott decided to get into politics in 2010 when he entered the race for governor.
He campaigned as a member of the tea party movement and used his own wealth to fund his campaign aimed at changing the way government did business.
He spent $73 million dollars of his own money in a race that surprised the party’s establishment, He defeated then-Attorney General Bill McCollum, a long-time politician who had also served in Congress, in a shocking primary. He went on to defeat Democrat Alex Sink, who was Florida’s chief financial officer. He won reelection four years later against former governor Charlie Crist.
It was symbolic of his rise from poor beginnings. He grew up in public housing and later enlisted with the Navy. When he finished his service he worked his way through college, got a law degree and went on to become head of the Columbia/HCA hospital chain.
In excerpts from his announcement made available to the Associated Press, Scott is critical of “career politicians” and calls for term limits for members of Congress.
“I admit that Washington is horribly dysfunctional,” said Scott in scripted remarks made available ahead of his announcement in Orlando.
“Washington is full of old thinking. Washington is tired. And the truth is, both political parties share some of the blame. They’ve tried a lot of things — it just didn’t work. But I will not accept the idea that we can’t change Washington.”
Scott is forced to step down at the beginning of the year due to term limits.
The contest between Scott and Nelson is expected to be close, hard-fought battle between. While most recent polls give Nelson a slight lead, many are within the margin of error and indicate the race to be a toss-up.
The contest for the Florida Senate seat could decide which party controls the Senate. Democrats have been gearing up for the campaign running video spots critical of Scott’s terms as governor and his actions in the business world.
After months of speculation, the gloves will come off later this morning and the battle between Scott and Nelson begins.