SENATE BRIEF: The Shaky Foundations of Rick Scott’s Senate Bid

Week of Monday, April 9

IN BRIEF: Florida’s going to be close – duh. But Rick Scott’s decision to run for U.S. Senate will go down as one of the great mistakes in recent political history. When Scott announces a bid for Senate (via Facebook Live, no Republican enthusiasm required) he will stake his candidacy on his stewardship of Florida’s economy. But regular Floridians are well aware of what top economists are saying: under Rick Scott, Florida’s economy is rewarding the wealthy and big corporations, while millions of Floridians struggle make ends meet.

Consider this shocking report from the Tampa Bay Times: a majority of Florida counties (36 out of 67) have fewer jobs today than they did at the beginning of 2008. Meanwhile, “new jobs are paying workers significantly less than the jobs they replaced.”

Listen closely. You can already hear the cracks in the foundation of Rick Scott’s candidacy:

  • Rick Scott takes credit for Florida’s economy, but Floridians aren’t enjoying the prosperity he and his fellow jet-setters are. Less than half of Florida’s counties have seen job growth since the recession. Median income in Florida has fallen in real dollars, while Scott cut education by a billion dollars and offered huge tax breaks for large corporations.
  • Under Rick Scott, hundreds of thousands of people have dropped out of Florida’s workforce. “The economy looks like we’re close to operating at full employment, when we really aren’t,” Florida’s chief economist said late last year.
  • Scott barely won Florida’s governorship in Republican wave years. Even in 2010 and 2014, with his campaigns spending millions more than his fellow statewide Republican candidates, he won hundreds of thousands fewer votes. This year, you can count on Rick Scott’s rickety record to collapse under a Democratic wave.

THREE TO WATCH:

  • Josh Hawley: Despite his best efforts, Missouri’s attorney general keeps getting forced to do his day job. After whitewashing Gov. Eric Geitens’s scandal over self-destructing text messages, what will Hawley do when the Missouri legislature this week reveals the results of its investigation into Greiten’s affair and charges of invasion of privacy?
  • Dean Heller: Last week, after weeks of negative coverage for his refusal to answer questions from his constituents or reporters, Heller finally held a press conference – where he had Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao act as his security blanket. Let us remind you that the last time Heller held a town hall was over a year ago – and he had a security blanket then, too: his high school buddy Rep. Mark Amodei. What are the odds Heller does another town hall  before election day?
  • Jim Renacci: Renacci began his campaign for Senate with a pathetic attempt to pose as a Washington outsider. Last week saw that fiction crumble completely, as an AP investigation revealed he was a registered lobbyist while serving as a member of Congress – followed by a bombshell story revealing a “straw donor scheme” that allowed Renacci to boost his fundraising by tens of thousands of dollars for his failed gubernatorial campaign.

THREE NUMBERS:

  • 350,000: Rick Scott’s vote deficit in 2014, compared to the next-lowest statewide Republican on the ballot.
  • 5.7: The Republican advantage, in percentage points, at the ballot box in 2014 – when Rick Scott won by just 1%.
  • 7.5: The current Democratic advantage on the generic ballot in 2018.

ONE FOR THE ROAD: Sexy Beaches” by Pitbull ft. Chloe Angelides (2016) (Rick Scott’s administration paid Pitbull $1 million for this song. Really.)

AND HAPPY MONDAY from American Bridge. Follow us at @JoshuaKarp @EmmaBeckerman1