Joe Henderson: WWRSD (What Would Rick Scott Do)? - Florida Politics

Joe Henderson: WWRSD (What Would Rick Scott Do)?

After being force-fed more Rick Scott commercials on TV than I can count, all I’ve really heard from the man who wants to be our next U.S. Senator is that Bill Nelson is (paraphrasing here) washed-up, tuckered-out, and devoid of new ideas.

One lady in a Scott ad allowed that Nelson seems like a good guy, but he has been around forever and so we ought to elect someone else.

Rick Scott approves that message, and that is basically all he has had to say:

Nelson bad, Nelson bad, Nelson bad.

Scott good?

Depends on your point of view I guess. And it does remind people that Scott has hammered his opponent in multiple ways, he hasn’t actually talked much about what he will do if he defeats Nelson.

Take the latest attack by the Scott camp, calling Nelson a Democratic “rubber stamp” for judicial appointments while Barack Obama was president.

It says that Nelson voted yea on more than 300 people Obama nominated for judgeships. He never voted to turn one down.

As reported in Florida Politics, Lauren Schenone, Press Secretary for Scott for Florida, said: “Bill Nelson’s voting history shows that he puts partisan politics before Floridians, even when it comes to something as important as judicial nominations,” said

“Bill Nelson didn’t vote against a single one of Obama’s judicial nominees, but he obeyed party leaders in voting against Supreme Court Justice (Neil) Gorsuch and decided to vote against a Florida judicial appointee he personally recommended once Chuck Schumer told him to. That’s because Bill Nelson isn’t in Washington to be a leader for Florida — he’s in Washington to be a rubber stamp for Democrats.”

Well, it’s true that Nelson recently decided to vote against confirming Allen Winsor for a spot on the Northern District of Florida court after initially saying he could support President Trump’s nominee. He said new information came before the Senate Judiciary Committee that caused him to change his mind.

Whether you buy that explanation or not, it really doesn’t matter. The decision is red meat for Scott’s campaign, as long as no thinks about the uncomfortable follow-up question that must be asked: WWRSD?

What Would Rick Scott Do?

I mean, you can’t decry your opponent for being a party-line rubber stamp unless you plan to go to Washington and turn over the tables with principled votes that go against, say, Mitch McConnell’s agenda.

And Scott wouldn’t do that — unless, of course, he had a high desire to be shunned by Senate leadership and shuffled off to the Subcommittee on Investigations into Possible Links Between Backgammon and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

With likely rare exceptions, Scott would dutifully push the green button on Republican-sponsored bills and red for anything offered by Democrats.

It’s how Washington operates, which explains why Scott hasn’t invested a lot of airtime and space on telling us what he will do if elected.

As the campaign goes on, I assume Scott and Nelson will get around specifics about what they hope to do for Florida.

Right now, though, the Scott strategy is to tag Nelson as often as possible as a Washington lightweight who does what the Democratic leadership tells him.

They’re betting no that, for now, one will ask Scott, “Why would you be any different?”

When that question eventually is asked, they’d better have a good answer that has more substance than, well, he’s not Bill Nelson.

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


  1. More Taxes, Less Freedom & Independence + Nelson, Less taxes, more Jobs, More Freedom & Independence = Scott. Socialism Bad, Freedom Good… If you adopt the Slavery Party, You work & I EAT moto, then you may be a Democrat.

  2. You nailed it with this column! It would be refreshing if a politician would tell us what he/she hopes to accomplish for us rather than doing nothing but tearing down his/her opponent or begging for money.

  3. I’m not a pollster, but my understanding is that when you’re down in the polls, you go negative on your opponent as Scott is doing. Nelson has worked hard for Floridians for decades and has a solid reputation. Scott has to try and knock that down with negative ads to have any chance of winning. Scott doesn’ t have much of a platform of his own other than more Trump. Scott’s sketchy background kind of matches Trump, so no mystery why they like each other. They have a lot in common.

  4. First of all the commercial claims Nelson has been in Congress 40 plus years? No, get it right….He was elected to Congress in 2000. 18 years ago, Before that he was in Florida politics. Get your facts right and maybe we can make a educated decision. We are not stupid. Besides, Scott lucked out when his corp. was convicted of Medicare fraud.

  5. In the beginning Scott vaguely referenced term limits for congress. Hammering in one positive ad in the beginning of a campaign, and then using negative ads to build off of the foundation seems like a solid strategy. At this point campaigning on a platform besides Nelson bad Scott good could really hurt his campaign. He’s taking it seriously while Nelson thinks the incumbency advantage will let him slide back into his Senate seat.

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