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Florida Gov. Rick Scott's Rough Week Also an Opportunity

by Tal Axelrod /
Florida Governor Rick Scott speaks with business owners after a round table discussion about Zika preparedness in the Wynwood neighborhood where the mosquito born Zika virus has been found, Aug. 22, 2016 in Miami, Florida.Joe Raedle / Getty Images

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This week was a tough one for Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

Scott is helping his state navigate Zika outbreaks in parts of Miami and Miami Beach, and the initial aftermath of Hurricane Hermine which left more than 250,000 without power and caused massive flooding.

Scott is also the national chairman of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s Super PAC Rebuilding America Now and the GOP candidate’s overall fundraising continues to lag behind.

The Florida governor also stirred mild controversy by heaping praise upon Carlos Beruff, the Trump-admiring real estate developer who lost a Senate primary challenge against incumbent and former Trump opponent Marco Rubio.

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Undoubtedly, Gov. Scott has to figure out how to deal with a checklist of which other governors are probably not jealous. Fortunately, he has two things on his side: staffers and experience.

"He’s got a big staff and he’s had six years of experience as governor of Florida. It's a mega state so you expect these sorts of things," University of Virginia Center for Politics Director Larry Sabato said. "Florida has more than its fair share of disasters and that’s been true for decades."

However, this series of events is unique for Scott, as he has to find the balance between his role as governor and his role in the Trump campaign.

It has been reported that Scott is potentially eyeing a Senate run in 2018 when Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson’s third term ends. If Trump were to win the presidency in November, this alliance could prove fruitful in a hypothetical Senate campaign in two years.

However, in the seemingly more likely scenario that Hillary Clinton becomes president, Scott’s national efforts could be viewed as taking time away from tackling Zika and the fallout from Hermine.

"He would be very foolish to spend time on politics while his state is experiencing these crises," Sabato said. "This is not a time to be seen as a political operative for Donald Trump or anyone else. Your 24/7 job is dealing with the crises besetting Florida."

Regardless, Scott may not miss any time spent away from advocating for a campaign that cannot seem to set a clear policy on immigration, its signature issue. Spending more time on the Floridian crises could prove more beneficial for Scott, as tackling them effectively could help him in the future on a national stage of his own.

"Just think about the number of governors over the years running for reelection, senate, president who’ve used the crises that they managed in their states in their TV ads. It’s made for TV. You’re saying 'I know how to manage a crisis. I’m going to take this to the national level and do the same thing.' People are receptive to that message," Sabato said.

"It’s a risk, but it’s a great opportunity, too," he said.

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