Gov. Rick Scott will travel to Puerto Rico on Thursday, the anniversary of Hurricane Maria’s 2017 island landfall.
Scott will join Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló along with other senior island officials to pay tribute to the lives lost and devastation left behind.
This is Scott’s eighth trip to the island in a year. And comes as the term-limited Governor hopes to ascend to the U.S. Senate after the upcoming election. A Republican, Scott is challenging incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson for the seat.
While the trip was noticed by Scott’s government office and staff, rather than his campaign, both candidates are transparently attempting to capture support from displaced Puerto Ricans, as well as from other Hispanic voters.
For Scott, it’s clear that strategy is working.
A poll earlier this summer showed Scott as more favorable among Latino voters than Nelson. Shortly after Scott entered the race in April, he began airing television ads in both English and Spanish. Last week, Scott’s Senate campaign launched a Spanish-language TV spot distancing the Governor from President Donald Trump, who wouldn’t enjoy nearly as much support among Hispanic voters in Florida.
“When I don’t agree with what President Trump does or says, I’ve said it,” Scott says in the ad, in Spanish.
Scott’s trip to the island comes shortly after he vocally spoke out against Trump last week. The death toll from Hurricane Maria, Trump had claimed, was inflated by Democrats.
Not so, said Scott.
I disagree with @POTUS– an independent study said thousands were lost and Gov. Rosselló agreed. I've been to Puerto Rico 7 times & saw devastation firsthand. The loss of any life is tragic; the extent of lives lost as a result of Maria is heart wrenching. I'll continue to help PR
— Rick Scott (@ScottforFlorida) September 13, 2018
It’s unclear if appearances alongside Rosselló will manifest into anything substantial for Scott’s bid.
He’s garnered support from several other leaders on the island, including from Jenniffer González–Colón, who represents Puerto Rico in Congress. But Rosselló has consistently supported Florida Democrats this cycle. Among them: Congressman Darren Soto and then-Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham.
Rosselló hasn’t endorsed Nelson, but his father — a former Boricua Governor — backed the incumbent in June.