Rick Scott defeats Bill Nelson in Florida Senate race


  • Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
Republican Gov. Rick Scott defeated incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson for one of Florida's two seats in the U.S. Senate.

Nelson, a three-term senator, lost to Scott in a race that saw about $180.7 million spent by both candidates and political outside groups, according to October data from the Center for Responsive Politics.

Scott, an extremely wealthy man, managed to wrangle a win in what was the most expensive Senate race in Florida history.

Nelson, 76, has spent more than four decades in public office, starting with his early days as a Florida legislator. The moderate Democrat focused his campaign on guaranteeing access to health care, particularly the continuation of the Affordable Care Act, and criticized Scott's refusal to expand Medicaid coverage to about 800,000 low-income Florida residents.

Nelson also decried Scott's role in the state's red tide toxic algae crisis, which has caused massive fish kills, led to the deaths of hundreds of manatees, dolphins, sea turtles and other marine life, and caused respiratory problems among locals and tourists. Nelson said during Scott's two terms as governor he "systematically disassembled the environmental agencies of this state."

Although Scott, 65, spent the majority of his time during the 2016 election stumping for President Donald Trump, he distanced himself from his former ally during the majority of the election to appeal to the general electorate, even disagreeing with him publicly on the death toll in Puerto Rico after Hurricane María.

Dogged by environmental advocates who nicknamed him "Red Tide Rick" after the toxic algae crisis, Scott, nevertheless, pushed last-minute funding resources into solving the crisis. A former health care CEO, Scott was elected Florida governor in 2011 on a campaign of increasing jobs in Florida by attracting more businesses.

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