Rick Scott Wins Bill Nelson’s Florida Senate Seat

Republican Senate candidate Rick Scott waves to supporters at his election-night party in Naples, Fla., November 6, 2018. (Joe Skipper/Reuters)

Republican Rick Scott won his Senate bid in Florida Tuesday night, ousting three-term Democratic senator Bill Nelson.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Scott had won 50.4 percent of the vote, less than one percentage point more than Nelson’s 49.6 percent.

The race had been neck-and-neck, with the final polls showing Nelson leading Scott by a nerve-wracking four points.

Scott, 65, a lawyer, Navy veteran, and former hospital executive, was elected to be Florida’s governor in 2010. He campaigned for the Senate on a platform of expanding Medicaid, some gun restrictions, and protecting Florida’s natural resources, all positions he once shied away from.

“My top priority is to ensure that Florida’s natural resources are protected,” Scott said.

However, Texas and Oklahoma oil-and-gas executives have contributed close to $1 million to Scott’s campaign, and he supported drilling during his 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

“I think it’s pretty clear where he’s going to be,” Nelson said.

Nelson has represented Florida in the Senate since 2000 and is the only Democrat in statewide office. The Miami native served in the U.S. Army Reserve during the Vietnam war.

Nelson ran into a snag during the political fight of his life after the Democrat made several careless comments about Russian interference in U.S. voting infrastructure.

In August, Nelson said that Russians “have already penetrated certain counties in the state and they now have free rein to move about,” adding later that “of course” he stands by his comments.

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security refuted the senator’s claim, saying, “We have not seen new or ongoing compromises of state or local election infrastructure in Florida.”

The midterm elections are widely regarded as a reflection of the job President Trump has done as president. Trump campaigned twice for Scott along with Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis in Florida last week.

“In Rick’s case, he’s going against somebody that’s falling asleep,” Trump said of the 76-year-old Nelson.

Republicans solidified their hair’s breadth majority in the Senate, where Democrats needed two seats to gain control.

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