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Florida Today: Rick Scott revs up local GOP members ahead of 2022 elections 

Rick Scott revs up local GOP members ahead of 2022 elections

Ralph Chapoco FLORIDA TODAY

Sen. Rick Scott was the keynote speaker at a local Republican party event Friday and he gave the crowd plenty to chew on besides their hor d’oeuvres.

The event gave Scott a chance to highlight talking points to rally the base for the coming November election. Topics included a steady diet of issues that have become the backbone of Republican orthodoxy, from immigration and the border wall to taxes and regulation.

Scott covered ground similar to former President Donald Trump when he was campaigning for office, such as concerns about Mexican migrants crossing the sudden border. “The borders are completely open,” Scott said.

On COVID-19 vaccines, he described an incident on the Senate floor when he proposed a topic for unanimous consent.

“I went the other day and said, ‘I don’t think Joe Biden should be able to require vaccine mandates before you get Medicare,’” Scott told the crowd. “Reasonable right? Democrats blocked it.”

He also offered a glimpse of the inner workings of the Washington establishment.

“In D.C., we just take your money,” Scott said. “There is no accountability. We just waste your money. It is not a little bit of money. These are trillion-dollar bills. It is just staggering how they spend money.”

Toward the end of his speech, Scott focused on the coming election. As chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Scott is leading the effort to either elect or reelect members of his party in that chamber.

Rallying the base will be critical to the Republican Party’s election prospects in the fall, especially in the U.S. Senate that currently is equally divided between Republicans and Democrats, with Vice President Kamala Harris having the tie-breaking vote.

John Hanley, a lecturer at the University of Central Florida, characterizes chances of a Republican takeover as a tossup.

“Republicans are facing a more difficult map,” he said. “They have to defend in places like Pennsylvania and it looks like they have a difficult race with candidates in Pennsylvania. They have got a little bit of mess on their hands with candidates in Ohio. It is a complicated map, and they have potential problems with candidates in a number of states.”

Re-electing Sen. Marco Rubio will be important to that effort. The Cook Political Report, a website that tracks the competitiveness of national races, rates the Rubio race as lean Republican. Meaning “the contest is competitive, but one party has the advantage.”

“Marco is raising his money,” Scott said. “He is working hard. We got to work for him, but we will win.”

Overall, the crowd was pleased with Scott’s performance.

“I think that he cares enough about his constituents and his people to do a makeup, to come and speak with us personally, says a lot about his character and how invested he is in the community and the state,” said attendee Adrienne Anderson.

Scott was originally selected as the keynote speaker for the Lincoln/Regan dinner scheduled back in June of 2021 but after the Surfside Condominium collapse in Miami, he pulled out to visit with families affected by the tragedy. 

“I am so excited we were able to pull him off the campaign trail,” said Rick Lacey, chairman of the Brevard Republican Executive Committee, which organized the event. “He is flying across the country helping 34 Senate candidates, and for us to get him to come here and spend the time with us is just fantastic.”

Reach the reporter at rchapoco@floridatoday.com and follow him on Twitter @rchapoco.