Gov. Rick Scott ran his first campaign as a political outsider, but apparently now he's dreaming of becoming a Beltway insider. Scott is reportedly thinking of mounting a run for U.S Senate, at least according to a vague report from the Tampa Bay Times . However, he's not eying 2016 should Marco Rubio run for Senate, but 2018 when Florida's only statewide elected Democrat Bill Nelson's third term is up.
Nelson is generally seen as untouchable. He's officially started fundraising for reelection in 2018, but the election is four years away and Nelson would be 76 years old. Not everyone thinks it's a guarantee that he'll indeed run again. Reelection would keep him into the Senate until he's 82 – of course, that's not unheard of in the Senate.
The Times report doesn't indicate whether Scott would run only if the seat is open or if he'd face off against Nelson. Among statewide officials in Florida, Scott tends to have some of the lowest and most divisive approval ratings, while Nelson tends to have relatively high approval ratings.
The two politicians' public personas couldn't be more different.
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Scott is known for taking controversial stands on high-profile issues. He came into office and refused federal funding on a much discussed high-speed rail line on ideological terms. He's tried to drug test just about anyone he can, only to see those laws thrown out in the courts. He's reportedly banned his administration from using the term "climate change." Even when he's willing to compromise, he's seen as a right-wing Tea Partier.
Meanwhile, Nelson prefers to make his grand political stands on less controversial issues. He thinks giant snakes in the Everglades are bad. He likes to get funding for NASA's operations in Florida. He's also done this neat trick where most Floridians think he's one of the most moderate Democrats in the Senate, when in actuality compared to his colleagues he's more of a middle-of-the-road senator.
They two have approaches to public relations that couldn't be more different.
However, perhaps the biggest irony here is that Scott burst into politics as a "political outsider" in the 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary against career politician Bill McCollum (such a career politician that he had run against Nelson for Senate in 2000), but apparently now wants to be a career politician himself.