Keith Gross launches GOP Primary challenge to Rick Scott
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Keith Gross
The Panama City native has explored a run for months.

Melbourne lawyer Keith Gross announced he’s running for U.S. Senate, setting up a Republican Primary with U.S. Sen. Rick Scott.

Gross has explored a run for months. Now he has formally launched his campaign with a video on YouTube and a live website.

“The people we’re supposed to trust in Washington have forgotten us, the people that sent them there,” Gross said in his launch video. “Our nation is in desperate need of real leadership because, at the end of the day, we all want the same thing: freedom.”

While Gross makes no mention of the incumbent, Scott has already announced he will seek re-election to the Senate for a second term.

Gross also seems to take a veiled swipe at Scott by describing himself as “someone that isn’t getting rich by riding fraud and corruption.”

That’s an apparent allusion to a $1.7-billion Medicaid fraud settlement by Columbia/HCA to the federal government. The hospital chain agreed to pay that settlement as it pushed Scott out as CEO. The incident has fueled repeated attacks on Scott since his first run for Florida Governor in 2010.

But like Scott, Gross enters a race for statewide office with a business resume, not a political record. The head of Gross Law Group in Melbourne, the lawyer has worked both as in-house counsel for businesses and as an Assistant State Attorney. When he first formed a nonprofit exploring his candidacy, Gross stressed his background as a “very wealthy businessman, worth millions.”

Another similarity, Gross’ bio leans heavily on his background as a self-made man raised by a single mother.

His campaign stresses a conservative political ideology, with his launch video recounting childhood memories of watching former President Ronald Reagan give a famous speech at the Berlin Wall. He said that speech first taught him the meaning of freedom.

He also calls freedom “the Florida way,” borrowing rhetoric from Gov. Ron DeSantis, a frequent intraparty rival of Scott.

While Gross’ website doesn’t attack Scott, the site for his exploratory organization does. An op-ed penned by Gross appears on the Advancing Florida website and attacks Scott’s position on re-evaluating Social Security.

“This isn’t a handout, it’s a return on our investment. Social Security is a promise made to workers by our government and our nation must keep its promises,” Gross wrote in February. “Rick Scott is untrustworthy and I’m not surprised that he is trying to sunset Social Security because this is exactly what you should expect from someone with his history.”

That’s an attack similar to criticisms from Democrats employed when Scott released his Rescue America plan for Senate Republicans in the Midterms. That called for all federal programs to sunset every five years to be reviewed by Congress. After critics slammed that as an attack on Medicare and Social Security, Scott said he supported continuing both programs.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • It's Complicated

    April 11, 2023 at 1:56 pm

    Mr. Gross should immediately fire any consultant that tells him Rick Scott is vulnerable on the Columbia/HCA Medicare fraud issue. Rick Scott has been elected to statewide office THREE TIMES since that settlement was paid in 2002, and it was front and center in each election, never getting much traction. No one cares.

    BTW, putting a sunset date on ALL federally funded programs to force a review is not a bad idea. It provides opportunities to fix problems that otherwise go unaddressed indefinitely. Mr. Gross is either mistaken or not in touch with reality if he believes that more than a small handful of Members of Congress in either party or chamber want Social Security or Medicare to go away. It is a classic Straw Man argument.

  • It's Not That Complicated

    April 11, 2023 at 2:15 pm

    Yeah! We need someone to take on that HACK and FAILURE Rick Scott out of office! He wasn’t very good for Florida, and lost us the senate! I’d take anyone over Scott, even a guy named Gross!

  • Its Always Complicated

    April 11, 2023 at 2:57 pm

    Rick Scott has always mismanaged funds from the HCA to the NRSC. It is not just about the HCA fraud scandal, it is about Rick Scott’s poor judgment and history when it comes to finances. Not only that but also his incompetence to immediately put Florida seniors below the poverty line. Whether he meant it or not, he drafted and published a plan that made that a possibility.

  • It's Complicated

    April 12, 2023 at 9:22 am

    You both are completely missing the point. I wasn’t speaking to the effectiveness or competency of Rick Scott. Rather, pointing out the Columbia/HCA settlement has repeatedly proven to be one for a challenger to lose on. I’ll remind you of the adage, “The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect a different outcome.” <— THAT is my point.

  • Olivia

    April 12, 2023 at 5:51 pm

    THANK GOD…Rick Snott needs to be totally removed from all political positions anywhere, he and Trump, and DeSatan with them, the Republican party is a Nazi joke…and as for “sunsetting ss and medicare” that stinks too. Ron Johnson, Rick Scott. Mike Pence. Mike Lee the list goes on for these devils looking for ways to bleed the poor and seniors to death to line the pockets of the wealthy even thicker. Good Luck, Mr. Gross, lm a Jacksonville Beach Fl resident for over 50 years, you have my vote already.

    • It's Complicated

      April 13, 2023 at 4:17 pm

      If the Congress does not fix funding formulas to assure future liquidity for both Medicare and SS, the systems will eventually default in such a way they may be irretrievable. Congress hasn’t passed more than a handful of bills over the past decade, preferring to piecemeal hundreds of policy bills into huge spending packages. Both parties have done this. Both parties have ignored the long-term health of these particular programs. Neither side holds the high moral ground on spending issues. NEITHER party will let SS or Medicare die, and to believe otherwise is just naive. Democratic Party policies will send these programs to the grave quicker than Republican policies, but both parties are without a plan to fix these programs in the long term.

      The real question is do we want to try to fix Medicare and SS when it breaks and lies in a smoking heap on the ground (reactionary), or should we contemplate the future of these programs and plan models for long-term solvency and make course adjustments accordingly (proactive/deliberative)? The sad part is all these hand-wringers that will not even allow the subject to be discussed without resorting to histrionics. Pathetic, really.

      • Ocean Joe

        April 15, 2023 at 3:03 pm

        How do you feel about means testing? Didnt think so.
        How about eliminating the cap on taxing wages for social security? How about enforcing a minimum corporate income tax? Still no? Get serious.
        The Rick Scott types howl about the IRS doing its’ job, and look to reducing benefits for those who need them while running interference for the wealthy. That’s the GOP way.
        As for this challenger, he’s probably horrible, quotes Ronald Reagan but won’t quote Reagan’s position on assault rifles for sure. Scott has absolutely no business being in a position of public trust and his behavior as CEO of HCA is proof of it. HCA is a very credible issue, but when folks vote R or D like robots it doesnt matter.

        • It's Complicated

          April 18, 2023 at 12:35 pm

          No, the Columbia/HCA fraud settlement is not a credible issue. If it was, it would have mattered in one of those elections. It has not mattered. To believe otherwise 20-years after the fact rises to the level of delusional. That delusion is too Sen. Scott’s advantage.

          I categorically reject the notion that raising taxes is the default solution to Federal budget problems. The Federal government burns money with turbocharged incinerator efficiency, which is why I am unapologetically for reigning in spending. I oppose giving the Federal government more money when they are so incredibly irresponsible with the money they currently collect. I am utterly UNAPOLOGETIC for wanting to keep more of the money I earn, and for being able to collect Social Security from a system I have paid into for 45 years – irrespective of my net worth or income stream when I retire.

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