Scott enters senate race vs. nelson, vows to ‘change washington’

But Scott railed against “career politicians” and said Washington needs fresh ideas as he stood with his wife, Ann Scott, at a construction business amid pallets of truss anchors, 40-pound tubs of cement resurfacing mix and newly printed “Let’s Get To Work” signs.

“I didn’t fit into Tallahassee because I didn’t play the insider games. I never intended to fit into Tallahassee and guess what: I’m not going to fit into Washington, either. We need to shake up Washington. We can’t keep sending career politicians and politicians to Washington and think we’re going to get a different result,” Scott said.

Scott’s formal announcement ended two years of speculation about his plans beyond 2018, when he faces term limits as governor.

A Scott campaign for Senate has been such a foregone conclusion over the past year that no other plausible Republican candidates have even hinted at entering the race.

Scott’s Monday announcement came on the eighth anniversary of his filing for governor in 2010. Scott, a multimillionaire health care executive who had never run for office, was seen as having no chance in the Republican primary that year against then-Attorney General Bill McCollum.

Scott was an early cheerleader for Trump and has a close relationship with the president, dining with him in Washington and at Trump International Golf Club in unincorporated West Palm Beach. Trump publicly urged Scott to run for Senate during a visit to Miami last June and again in September when he visited Southwest Florida to survey damage from Hurricane Irma.

Scott has received high marks in polls for his handling of Hurricane Irma, though Democrats have tried to link him to the heat-related deaths of 14 seniors at a Broward County nursing home that had its air conditioning knocked out by the hurricane.

A storm that spared Florida but devastated Puerto Rico — Hurricane Maria — got much of the attention at Scott’s announcement on Monday. The storm has sent many Puerto Ricans to Florida, where they could play a significant role in the 2018 elections.

“I’ve always run every race like there’s no tomorrow – regardless of my opponent. While it’s clear that Rick Scott will say or do anything to get elected, I’ve always believed that if you just do the right thing, the politics will take care of itself,” Nelson said.

While Scott and Nelson said little about each other Monday, the Republican and Democratic parties and allied groups have been preparing for the race for months and launched a variety of attack websites. The Democratic-leaning Senate Majority PAC, for example, released an anti-Scott digital ad on Sunday while the Republican-leaning Senate Leadership Fund has an anti-Nelson website deriding the incumbent.

During a stop in West Palm Beach last week to promote gun control, Nelson said Scott “has not been in touch with the state of Florida – not only on massacres and guns but things like climate change, sea level rise, funding for schools and go right on down the list, including drilling offshore. So, folks are going to have a real, real choice.”

Private sector employment has grown by about 20 percent in Florida since Scott took office, compared to about 16 percent for the rest of the U.S. over the same period, according to federal Bureau of Labor Statistics figures. Florida’s 10.7 percent unemployment rate in January 2011 was worse than the nation’s 9.1 percent jobless rate at the time; in February, the state’s 3.9 percent unemployment rate was better than the nation’s 4.1 percent rate.