Politico is reporting that Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida may be in trouble for reelection in 2018. The betting is that Nelson will face Florida’s Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, who is term-limited and is expected to run for the senate. Scott will decide as to whether to run late in 2017 or early in 2018. He has every incentive to wait until the last minute because fundraising rules are more constrained for a federal candidate than a state one.

Scott’s money advantage

Democrats are mainly spooked at Scott’s money advantage. The Florida Governor has a substantial personal fortune that he has not proven shy of using in his past election campaigns.

He overwhelmed his Democrats in both 2010 and 2014, both midterm years that were good for Republicans in any case.

Nelson, a relative moderate in an increasingly liberal party

Senator Bill Nelson also is a relatively moderate politician at a time when the Democratic Party is lurching to the left. The fear is that the Democratic base will not be as enthused at turning out for Nelson as they would someone who is more to the left. Nelson may track more to the left to try to pick up more Democrats, but he would then risk alienating more moderate and conservative voters and open himself to charges of flip-flopping.

The battle ahead

One of the factors that have obscured predictions by pundits is that neither Scott nor Nelson have faced very formidable opponents during their last two statewide races.

If Scott decides to run, both men will be in new territory in that they will each face formidable opponents.

Thus far Nelson’s strategy is to ask national Democrats to fundraise for him to try to narrow Scott’s money advantage and to go after President Trump in hopes of tying Scott to him. Nelson is also attacking Scott over his handling of Hurricane Irma, a risky strategy as it leaves him open to politicizing a natural disaster.

Nelson is also hoping that an influx of Puerto Ricans from that hurricane-ravaged island to provide a new pool of Democratic voters.

Scott’s strategy against Nelson will be to overwhelm him with money, attacking him with ads in the hope of lowering his favorability ratings. The plan worked in his two races for governor and Scott will bet that it will work against Nelson. The idea is to hold down Nelson’s turnout while bolstering Scott’s, making the 2018 election for the Senate a simple matter of whose voters are more motivated to go to the polls.