U.S. Sen. Rick Scott is considering an unexpected and dramatic entrance to the 2024 presidential race, according to The New York Times, a decision that would put him in direct competition in a GOP primary with former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the senator’s gubernatorial successor.
But Scott and his political team are denying the report, insisting that he is running for reelection to the U.S. Senate.
“It’s flattering that some have mentioned the possibility of Senator Scott running for President, but as he’s said many times, he’s running for re-election to the Senate,” said Chris Hartline, a senior adviser to Scott, in a statement to the Miami Herald.
When reached for comment, Curt Anderson, Scott’s longtime political adviser, pointed to Hartline’s on-the-record denial, saying he had nothing else to add. And Scott himself, when asked in the U.S. Capitol, reiterated that he was running for reelection for a second term in the Senate.
The report in The New York Times cited two unnamed sources familiar with Scott’s deliberations, saying he was considering a late entrance to the race. His campaign would come amid rising doubts about the viability of DeSantis’ campaign, which has struggled to make headway against the front-running Trump even as polls show him receiving the second most support from Republican voters.
Scott is the state’s former two-term governor, serving from 2011 to 2019. He first won election to the Senate in 2018.
Scott, whose personal wealth has helped fund his campaigns in Florida, was widely seen as a potential presidential contender in 2022, when he was chairperson of the politically influential National Republican Senatorial Committee. But the GOP’s unexpected failure to retake majority control of the U.S. Senate appeared to discourage his aspirations, and the senator announced earlier this year that he would run for reelection.
Republicans expressed across-the-board skepticism about a potential White House bid by Scott, arguing that there is little, if any, room for him to break into the already-crowded primary field. Trump is leading the contest by wide margins, according to most available polling, and DeSantis is widely seen as the No. 2 pick.
“He’s got a lot to offer but there’s just not the lane for him to win the nomination given the Trump factor and Ron DeSantis being the No. 2,” Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist and former congressional candidate, said. “Too many candidates and not enough donors.”
Scott has also said that he will seek reelection to his Senate seat in 2024, and, at least for now, is seen as the heavy favorite in that race. He already has a proven ability to self-fund his campaign and Democrats have yet to home in on a clear challenger for his seat.
“With the obvious caveat of that we’ll have to wait and see, no one is jumping into a race because they see the possibility of coming in second and third,” another strategist, Doug Heye, said.
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Scott would be the fourth Floridian to announce his 2024 White House candidacy, joining Trump, DeSantis and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who launched his campaign last week.