Dem hopes for Senate takeover fade as Nelson stumbles in Florida

Democrats who still hold out hope for a takeover of the Senate in November are fretting about the prospects of one of their most vulnerable incumbents. 

Senator Bill Nelson is being outspent, outmaneuvered, and out-classed in his race to keep his Florida Senate seat blue.  His opponent, Governor Rick Scott, has been all over the state, contrasting his vigorous campaign with that of the 75-year-old Nelson.

Any hopes of Democrats taking over the Senate hinge on them holding seats in states won by Trump in 2016.  All are locked in tight races with excellent GOP challengers. 

Democrats worry that Nelson isn't up to the task.

Politico:

It's been a month since Nelson led a public poll.  Private polling, even surveys conducted by Democrats, also show Nelson behind Scott.

Still, Washington Democrats say they are winning.  And party leaders are voicing confidence in Nelson and the favorable political climate for Democrats as well as what they see as Scott's baggage.

"Despite Rick Scott's enormous wealth, we have never doubted that Sen. Nelson would win.  Even after Scott has spent tens of millions on false attack ads, Nelson is still in a very strong position," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

But Republicans are defining the 75-year-old Nelson as anything but strong.  They're mocking him as past his prime, an attack Nelson's campaign calls as ageist as it is inaccurate.  And Republicans have relentlessly criticized Nelson for asserting some Florida counties' voter registration systems have been "penetrated" by Russia – a claim he hasn't backed up.  Scott's campaign released a Web ad last week mocking Nelson as "confused."

"Nelson looks old and tired," David McIntosh, who heads the conservative Club for Growth, said, summing up the Republican message.

In contrast to the worries Democrats have about Nelson, Republicans are effusive about Scott.

"The governor is coming on like gangbusters," said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas.  "He's run a very aggressive, early campaign and maybe surprised a few people."

Nelson is attempting to appear more energetic.  Earlier this month, he challenged Scott to a physical fitness contest.  And in May, Nelson demonstrated his fitness at a Clearwater fire station by engaging in a "chin-up challenge."

He was not available for an interview in the Capitol, but his campaign said "Nelson believes that if you just do your job and, as he's always done, treat public office as a public trust, the politics will take care of itself."

Republicans would do well not to get overconfident.  Scott is not the president's biggest booster, and Republicans around the country appear to be in the mood to punish politicians who don't support Trump 100%.  Besides that, Scott has his own political baggage:

Indeed, Scott is beset by a string of bad headlines at home: from accusations of conflicts of interest to favoring campaign donors to his regulation-cutting environmental record as the state suffers historic water pollution problems.

But Nelson hasn't stayed on message attacking Scott.  His genial, laid-back style doesn't lend itself to throwing constant haymakers, contrasting sharply with the pugilistic campaigns being run by most other at-risk senators.  He just started raising money seriously online this cycle, according to a Democratic source, and he subsequently pulled in $4.4 million in the latest fundraising quarter.

"He may be smarter than we all think.  But he's not a modern-day campaigner," said one Senate Democrat.  "He's very old school."

If there's one thing wrong with being "old school" it's...well, being old.  Trump has turned politics upside-down, wrung it out, and then socked it in the nose for good measure.  The political landscape has changed dramatically since 2016.  Those who adapt will prosper, while those who refuse to recognize that it's a whole new ballgame are likely to be losers. 

Nelson appears to fall in the latter category.

Democrats who still hold out hope for a takeover of the Senate in November are fretting about the prospects of one of their most vulnerable incumbents. 

Senator Bill Nelson is being outspent, outmaneuvered, and out-classed in his race to keep his Florida Senate seat blue.  His opponent, Governor Rick Scott, has been all over the state, contrasting his vigorous campaign with that of the 75-year-old Nelson.

Any hopes of Democrats taking over the Senate hinge on them holding seats in states won by Trump in 2016.  All are locked in tight races with excellent GOP challengers. 

Democrats worry that Nelson isn't up to the task.

Politico:

It's been a month since Nelson led a public poll.  Private polling, even surveys conducted by Democrats, also show Nelson behind Scott.

Still, Washington Democrats say they are winning.  And party leaders are voicing confidence in Nelson and the favorable political climate for Democrats as well as what they see as Scott's baggage.

"Despite Rick Scott's enormous wealth, we have never doubted that Sen. Nelson would win.  Even after Scott has spent tens of millions on false attack ads, Nelson is still in a very strong position," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

But Republicans are defining the 75-year-old Nelson as anything but strong.  They're mocking him as past his prime, an attack Nelson's campaign calls as ageist as it is inaccurate.  And Republicans have relentlessly criticized Nelson for asserting some Florida counties' voter registration systems have been "penetrated" by Russia – a claim he hasn't backed up.  Scott's campaign released a Web ad last week mocking Nelson as "confused."

"Nelson looks old and tired," David McIntosh, who heads the conservative Club for Growth, said, summing up the Republican message.

In contrast to the worries Democrats have about Nelson, Republicans are effusive about Scott.

"The governor is coming on like gangbusters," said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas.  "He's run a very aggressive, early campaign and maybe surprised a few people."

Nelson is attempting to appear more energetic.  Earlier this month, he challenged Scott to a physical fitness contest.  And in May, Nelson demonstrated his fitness at a Clearwater fire station by engaging in a "chin-up challenge."

He was not available for an interview in the Capitol, but his campaign said "Nelson believes that if you just do your job and, as he's always done, treat public office as a public trust, the politics will take care of itself."

Republicans would do well not to get overconfident.  Scott is not the president's biggest booster, and Republicans around the country appear to be in the mood to punish politicians who don't support Trump 100%.  Besides that, Scott has his own political baggage:

Indeed, Scott is beset by a string of bad headlines at home: from accusations of conflicts of interest to favoring campaign donors to his regulation-cutting environmental record as the state suffers historic water pollution problems.

But Nelson hasn't stayed on message attacking Scott.  His genial, laid-back style doesn't lend itself to throwing constant haymakers, contrasting sharply with the pugilistic campaigns being run by most other at-risk senators.  He just started raising money seriously online this cycle, according to a Democratic source, and he subsequently pulled in $4.4 million in the latest fundraising quarter.

"He may be smarter than we all think.  But he's not a modern-day campaigner," said one Senate Democrat.  "He's very old school."

If there's one thing wrong with being "old school" it's...well, being old.  Trump has turned politics upside-down, wrung it out, and then socked it in the nose for good measure.  The political landscape has changed dramatically since 2016.  Those who adapt will prosper, while those who refuse to recognize that it's a whole new ballgame are likely to be losers. 

Nelson appears to fall in the latter category.