Rick Scott could get political boost for leadership in Irma – Florida Politics (blog)
Standing tall in a NAVY cap, Florida Gov. Rick Scott will be an enduring image from Hurricane Irma. Seemingly everywhere but the eye of the storm, he was there on social media urging millions to evacuate, calmly taking charge at emergency briefings, even delivering early word of devastation in the Keys after a much-publicized flyover.
Politically, that image of calm before the storm couldn’t come at a better time for Scott.
Nearing the end of his second term, the conservative Republican has some of his highest approval ratings as he contemplates challenging Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in next year’s election. Even Democrats acknowledge Scott did a good job communicating about Irma. And at least for a time, that could boost Scott’s popularity after he repeatedly said a run against Florida’s senior U.S. senator is something he’d consider.
“The initial response has been positive. He’s been available to every media outlet short of Radio Free Europe. I think that’s very smart and it appears that he presents a competent image,” said Mitch Ceasar, a former state Democratic Party chairman. “I look for Scott to have a short-term bump; whether it lasts will depend on how well the recovery goes.”
Nelson also toured hard-hit communities and had Irma media availability. But the prominent Capitol Hill Democrat was overshadowed during the storm as all eyes fell on the state’s chief executive.
If Scott runs, as President Donald Trump encouraged when the two toured hurricane damage Thursday, it would give Nelson his greatest challenge since being elected in 2000. But it wouldn’t be easy for Scott. Nelson is the state’s most popular Democrat. A champion of the space program, he also fought to protect Florida beaches from offshore drilling and helped secure billions in federal dollars as Florida recovered from four devastating hurricanes