TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Gov. Rick Scott is challenging a longtime Democrat for a US Senate seat and says he's ready to "bust his butt to win."
The millionaire businessman turned two-term governor says he's running for the US Senate because career politicians have created gridlock in the federal government.
His candidacy poses a formidable threat to Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), who hasn't had a serious opponent since he was first elected 18 years ago.
The race could even determine the balance of power in Washington, but Scott faces a tough road ahead.
Although President Donald Trump won Florida in the 2016 presidential race, President Barack Obama won the state twice and twice it was Obama backlash that pushed Scott to narrowly win the governorship.
Despite serving eight years as Florida's chief executive, Scott is painting himself as the outsider candidate – like Trump, a distinction still popular among Republican activists. He says Washington is a "disaster" and is calling for congressional term limits.
Meanwhile, Sen. Nelson says he's ready for a fight.
"I've always run every race like there's no tomorrow – regardless of my opponent," Nelson said in a statement. "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."
The race will take place fresh off the tragic shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 students and staff dead and kick-started a national student movement that's captured the attention of lawmakers from coast to coast.
Scott and Nelson have already attacked each other's records on guns.
Since the shooting, Scott signed Florida's new law raising the age limit to purchase rifles to 21 and creating a new process enabling law enforcement to seize guns from someone who is considered a danger.
Nelson wants universal background checks and a ban on certain types of semi-automatic rifles.