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Optimism for GOP in Florida

Senator Bill Nelson (D-Florida), a vulnerable incumbent who is among the dying breed of Southern Democrats, is up for reelection in the 2018 midterms. Also up for grabs in 2018 will be the Florida governorship, which is being vacated by Republican Rick Scott due to term limits.

Governor Scott & President Trump

According to recent reports, Senator Nelson will most likely be challenged by Governor Scott, who is popular and received high marks for his handling of the devastation that followed Hurricane Irma in 2017.

POLITICO reports:

The term-limited governor said Tuesday that he’ll make up his mind about the race after the March 9 end of his last regular 60-day legislative session as governor. Scott won’t say which way he’s leaning, but some of those familiar with the governor’s thinking peg the likelihood of him running between 80 and 95 percent.

Match-up polls show that the race is essentially tied between Scott and Nelson, and Nelson's lead in the RealClearPolitics polling average is within the margin of error.

Nelson's approval rating is at 51%, but he should still be extremely worried about a Rick Scott candidacy: Republican President Donald Trump carried Florida in the 2016 election, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) won reelection to the Senate by nearly eight points.

Both of these facts show that while Florida was won by Obama twice, it is a purple state where no Democrat is safe. Bill Nelson is no exception.

In the Florida gubernatorial race, two viable contenders are squaring off for the GOP nomination: Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam and Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Florida).

While Putnam leads in the preliminary primary polling, commanding about a quarter of GOP voters, DeSantis was endorsed by President Trump and this could provide a lift for his bid.

The strength of the GOP candidates in the gubernatorial field should be a good sign for the Republican Party ahead of what could be a particularly bruising midterm season, and a Rick Scott candidacy would only advance the GOP's attempt to solidify its majority in the Senate.