As a first-time U.S. Senate candidate four years ago, Rick Scott said he would go to Washington to shake up the system — not to make friends.
He was true to his word. He shook things up, okay, and he has no friends in sight.
Scott’s sloppy handling of the Senate Republicans’ fundraising operation has all the hallmarks of a disaster in the making. If Republicans don’t regain a majority in the Senate in November, Scott will bear all the blame — as he should.
As chairman of the Republican National Senate Committee (NRSC), Scott’s tactical error was to refuse to take sides in the Republican primaries. It has allowed Donald Trump to flex his cult grip on his party base and play the role of kingmaker in key races.
The resulting freak show should surprise no one.
Because of his refusal to choose sides, Trump’s guys are now Scott’s guys.
In the battleground state of Pennsylvania, Republicans are nominating Mehmet Oz, a celebrity doctor who mocked Democratic opponent John Fetterman for suffering a stroke and was pilloried on social media as being both cleared and a baggage handler from New Jersey.
In Ohio, a MAGA maniac, JD Vance, endorsed the policies of brutal Hungarian dictator Viktor Orban, just one example in a long line of increasingly right-wing positions. As a result, Ohio is in tossup territory after being reliably Republican for several election cycles.
In Georgia, former soccer star Herschel Walker criticized absentee fathers, then admitted he was the father of at least two other children. He also claimed to have graduated in the top 1% of his class at the University of Georgia, but he never graduated. He outrageously exaggerated his commercial “successes”. The list continues.
This deeply flawed field is the best of Senate Republicans, and the incumbents are no better. Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson wants to end Medicare and Social Security as entitlement programs and subject those lifelines to the annual whims of senators. “Ron Johnson is going to win,” Scott told Fox News.
Let that sink in, voters of Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Scott, whose state trails only California in Medicare and Social Security recipients, is promoting the re-election of a senator who would put those programs at risk for millions of his Florida voters — many of them suffer from cancer, dementia or heart disease.
Scott hired a team of ex-Trump consultants who built a massive digital fundraising operation and then burned nearly all of their $181 million, forcing the NRSC to abandon scheduled TV ad buys.
The question all over DC is, what did Scott do with all that money?
The spending spree and its lucrative use of texting to raise funds is documented by Shane Goldmacher of The New York Times. The Times said the NRSC alone spent $225,000 on Google ads featuring Scott, raising questions of motives due to his presidential aspirations.
With the NRSC closet bare, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who is fighting the fight of his life against Democrat Val Demings, is reduced to begging on Fox. A two-term incumbent crawls for cash on TV while his state colleague controls fundraising for GOP Senate candidates.
Facing a torrent of criticism, Scott complained about the leaks and anonymous sources undermining him and the NRSC (Welcome to Washington, senator). He wrote an op-ed for the conservative website The Washington Examiner, lambasting Republicans who “secretly (or not-so-secretly) hate Republican voters,” but didn’t name any names.
“If you want to denigrate our candidates to help Democrats, let them know,” Scott wrote. “That’s not what leaders do.”
The screed was clearly aimed at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., But true to form, Scott denied that his nemesis McConnell was the target.
McConnell had pushed Scott, telling a Kentucky Chamber of Commerce group that Republicans are more likely to take over the House than the Senate and that one of the reasons is the “quality of candidates.”
With Scott’s credibility, critics found another opening. He vacationed on a luxury yacht in Italy after criticizing President Biden for taking time off in Delaware. Scott said he and his wife Ann took the trip to mark their 50th wedding anniversary.
Scott is no stranger to the sea. He never misses an opportunity to promote that he’s a veteran, appearing in those Google ads with his Navy cap.
The optics are perfect. After all, the senator spends money like a drunken sailor.
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