(CN) – Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced his bid for U.S. Senate on Monday, seeking to capitalize on Florida’s job growth and calling for congressional term limits.
Scott, a Republican who first won election during 2010’s Tea Party movement, faces longtime Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat.
In an already contentious midterm election, this senate race could be one of most expensive and heavily watched. Scott is a multi-millionaire who used millions of his own money in his two gubernatorial campaigns. Nelson, a former astronaut, has widespread support in the Democratic Party and has easily won his past senate terms.
Wearing a Navy hat and blue shirt, Scott addressed a crowd of supporters gathered inside ODC Construction, a home building company in Orlando. The city lies in the politically-important I-4 corridor and is home to a large Puerto Rican population. Puerto Rico Lt. Gov. Luis G. Rivera-Marin introduced Scott to the crowd and called him “a friend of Hispanics.”
In his remarks, Scott took credit for reversing the state’s high unemployment rate since taking office during the recession.
“People are flocking to Florida, because this is where you can live the American dream,” he said. “Now we have to take that same mission to D.C.”
Scott also repeatedly attacked “career politicians” without naming his opponent, Nelson, who has served in the Senate since 2001.
“This concept of career politicians has got to stop,” he said. “We have to have term limits on Congress. We’re not going to see a change in Washington if we don’t have term limits on Congress.”
Scott repeatedly talked up his “outsider” status.
“I didn’t fit into Tallahassee because I didn’t play the insider games,” he told the crowd. “And you know what? I’m not going to fit into Washington either.”
Scott gained more of a nationwide profile recently due to the Parkland school shooting. In the past, the National Rifle Association has praised the governor’s record on gun laws. But the organization recently sued over Scott’s signing of legislation raising the age limit to purchase rifles.
Scott’s announcement was widely expected and Democrats have already mobilized against his campaign.
“Floridians will have the benefit of a clear-eyed view of a truly dismal record,” Dan Gelber, a former state senator and Miami Beach mayor, told the Associated Press. “Floridians won’t forget the damage Rick Scott’s self-serving politics have done these last 7 years, no matter how he tries to change his spots and obscure his record.”
The Nelson campaign fired back against Scott in a tweet minutes after the governor’s announcement:
“I’ve always run every race like there’s no tomorrow — regardless of my opponent. While it’s clear that Rick Scott will say or do anything to get elected, I’ve always believed that if you wake up every day and if you try to do the right thing, the politics will take care of itself.”