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Rick Scott faces new challenger for Florida Senate seat

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Democrat Phil Ehr is challenging Senator Rick Scott in the 2024 U.S. Senate race in Florida as the party hopes to stage a comeback in the former battleground that has shifted toward Republicans in recent years.

Ehr, a retired U.S. Navy commander who previously ran for Congress in Florida’s 1st Congressional District, announced his Senate run on Monday with a video advertisement highlighting his 26-year military career and work in Ukraine. He also attacked Scott, a Republican who was first elected in 2018, for his ties to a Medicare fraud scandal and support for former President Donald Trump.

“A storm is brewing in Florida. For eight years, politicians like Rick Scott, DeSantis, Gaetz and Rubio have stood by Trump’s war on on the truth,” Ehr said in the video. They’re the axis of lies, spreading disinformation at all costs. They want to keep us confused, lost in the storm to hold onto power.”

Newsweek reached out to the Ehr and Scott campaigns via email for comment.

Rick Scott gets a senate challenger
Sen. Rick Scott speaks outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on May 3, 2023. Democrat Phil Ehr announced that he will challenge Scott in the 2024 Senate election.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty

His announcement comes amid reports that Democrats have struggled to coalesce around a well-known candidate in Florida’s Senate race, and as only a handful of minor Democratic candidates have also announced plans to challenge Scott.

Former U.S. Representatives Stephanie Murphy and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell have long been floated as potential challengers but have not said whether or not they will run in the election. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has reportedly been urging Mucarsel-Powell, who represented parts of South Florida from 2019 to 2021, to enter the race, according to Politico.

Pollsters have not conducted surveys on the 2024 Senate election, which remains more than a year out. But analysts view Scott as being favored against a Democratic candidate.

For decades, Florida was viewed as the nation’s largest battleground state that has been roughly evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. But the state has drifted toward the GOP in recent years amid a rightward turn among Hispanic voters and as conservative retirees flock to the state.

Despite winning the 2020 presidential election, President Joe Biden failed to win Florida, making him the first president to win the election without carrying the Sunshine State since Bill Clinton in 1992.

Democratic fortunes continued to falter during the 2022 midterms, when Republicans sailed to victory in statewide races despite Democrats having stronger-than-anticipated results across the country. Governor Ron DeSantis won the state by 19 points, while Senator Marco Rubio beat back his Democratic challenger by 16 points.

The Cook Political Report, an organization that tracks elections across the United States, rates Florida’s Senate election as “likely Republican,” meaning it is “not considered competitive at this point” but has “the potential to become engaged.”

Scott is also facing a primary challenge from his fellow Republican Keith Gross, an assistant state attorney and businessman.

The incumbent senator was first elected in 2018 when he narrowly defeated former Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat. Scott spent nearly $64 million of his own money on the campaign, according to The Miami Herald.



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