Florida race shifts to GOP as national committee launches TV ads mocking Nelson

The race in Florida against Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson in effect shifted from a race for a Democratic pick-up to an outright Republican advantage this week as the National Republican Senatorial Committee launched television ads mocking the seasoned veteran for missing a key committee hearing over Hurricane Michael.

Nelson, 78, faces a tough re-election bid for a seat that Republicans need to win to preserve their one-seat majority in the Senate.

Bill Nelson appointed Florida governor to face GOP governor in November election Read more

After Tuesday’s filing deadline, polls had shown the Democrat and his GOP opponent, former US representative Ron DeSantis, in a virtual tie. But on Wednesday afternoon, a source close to the race told the Guardian that Democratic Senate candidate Michelle Nunn, the daughter of former senator Sam Nunn, had conceded the race to DeSantis by the end of the day, ending a self-funded campaign that raised over $14m in its first three weeks.

From CNN:

Florida’s middle class is hurting and Democrats must show they are ready to take action to strengthen it. That is why there are 18 Democrats running for the House – and why 15 Democrats are running for the Senate.…

Nelson’s campaign, in a statement, said the senator’s early departure had doomed Democrats in the state. “The Democratic party, which has been out of power in the state for 20 years, has had little ability to run positive statewide campaigns,” the statement said. “But once a Republican wins the governorship and retains control of state government, these facts become a real problem for Florida Democrats.

“Today is the day Florida Democrats have been waiting for,” the statement continued. “The state’s troubles are reflected in recent polling data, and it’s time that Democrats speak out and put forward real solutions.”

The move to Virginia, along with the forecasts of late night spots in Georgia and Arizona, is part of an effort by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Senate campaign arm of the Republican party, to further transform the map in favor of Republicans.

On Monday, NBC reported that the party had already raised more than $100m for 2020, $35m of it from March 2018 through September 30. The report, citing Federal Election Commission records, showed the committee has so far spent roughly $54m. The committee also confirmed that the group has already held at least one fundraiser, raising more than $5m at the home of Marsha Evans of Airbnb.

In an interview with the Guardian on Tuesday, Nunn acknowledged that her campaign was unlikely to succeed given the power of money. “You just have to put your head down and work very hard in a nasty race where you can’t really get too much attention,” she said.

In a statement published by Politico, Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman Brad Dayspring denied that the full impact of midterm fundraising totals was known. “Because we’re not tracking all donors, we can’t declare victory until we’ve turned some of this cash into actual votes,” he said.

DeSantis is making no secret of his campaign strategy, which includes what he insists will be unbridled, populist, conservative messaging on tax cuts, healthcare and foreign policy that will appeal to middle class voters.

But Democrats have long hoped to flip Florida, which was swept by Barack Obama in the last two presidential elections. The state’s chasm between rich and poor, urban and rural, and Democratic and Republican voters – combined with high unemployment in heavily Democratic black and Hispanic communities – is one of the most liberal in the country. The state has consistently recorded a Republican presidential candidate for the past 20 years.

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