Democrats are increasingly concerned that Florida Sen. Bill Nelson will lose his reelection bid against Gov. Rick Scott and thus cost the party any chance of capturing the U.S. Senate in November, Politico reported on Monday.
It has been a month since Nelson has been ahead in an opinion poll in this swing state that President Donald Trump barely won in 2016, even though Democrats in general are polling well in states that Trump captured handily.
Some Democrats have said that the low-key, third-term senator is effective in Washington, but that his style is not suited for a Trump-era campaign, especially as he is being vastly outspent by his Republican competitor.
Critics have also said that he has not been visible enough in the campaign, while Scott has had a very high profile and has maintained his lead despite being beset by a string of bad headlines at home with accusations of conflicts of interest and his poor environmental record as the state suffers historic water pollution problems.
Nelson has also never faced a heavyweight opponent like the independently wealthy Scott in his previous races for the Senate.
Republicans are suggesting that Democrats might give up on Nelson as a lost cause and concentrate on less expensive states, with GOP Sen. John Thune of South Dakota saying that the Democrats have “such a big map this year, it’s going to be really hard for them where they are trying to figure out how to reallocate resources, and that if the Democrats didn’t invest in Florida, they “could spend a lot of money in North Dakota, Montana and Missouri and places like that.”
Without strong African-American turnout and support, Democrats typically lose statewide in Florida, but some blacks have expressed disappointment that the senator has not shown enough interest in their community until the election campaign started.
Complicating matters further for Nelson’s chances are that his cautious style has failed to fire up progressive and he hasn’t kept up with the state’s burgeoning Puerto Rican population, while Scott has moved in by welcoming evacuees after Hurricane Maria decimated the island and tens of thousands moved to the state.
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