US Sen. Rick Scott spends multiple millions on ads focused on Florida’s Hispanic voters



FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Rick Scott is spending millions to reach out to Florida’s Hispanic voters, a key voting group for his November reelection campaign that has grown to lean more heavily Republican.

Scott’s campaign said Wednesday it plans to spend about $700,000 per week for a series of radio, digital, TV and streaming-services ads in English and Spanish.

Over the next several weeks, the campaign will release different ads aimed toward this key voting group, which has voted increasingly Republican in the past few election cycles. These ads will run in Miami, West Palm Beach, Orlando and Tampa — all which are major cities in Florida critical for his reelection campaign, Miami having the largest group of Hispanic voters.

The first TV ad was released Wednesday, with no mention of Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, a former U.S. representative from Miami running to unseat the senator.

This week, Democrats have celebrated a glimmer of hope for this election cycle after the Florida Supreme Court approved an abortion-rights ballot initiative to be decided by Florida’s voters this November.

“In Florida, we understand how socialism suffocates the human spirit,” Scott said in the Wednesday morning ad. “That’s why I fight against the socialist agenda in Washington.”

Scott, like other Republicans, has often accused Democrats of leaning into socialism. This accusation has generally kept a rift between Democrats and Hispanic voter groups who escaped communist regimes in Cuba and Venezuela, which makes up a large portion of voters in Miami-Dade County. This traditionally blue county leaned red in the most recent midterm cycle, and it currently is Florida’s most populated county with more than 60% of its registered voters identifying as Hispanic.

Scott said last month that he puts a lot of effort into talking to Hispanic voters and finds that they care about the “same issues that everybody does,” like education, public safety and jobs.

“People that have come from to this country from another country, in a legal way, they came here because they wanted rule of law,” Scott said. “They want what America has to offer.”

Mucarsel-Powell, who announced her campaign last August, was elected in 2018. She was born in Ecuador and was Congress’ first Ecuadorian American and first South American-born congressional delegate. She lost her seat to Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Gimenez after one term.

Mucarsel-Powell said last month that she relates to Hispanic voters because her story is similar to “so many people that live here in South Florida.”

As part of her campaign, she does biweekly Spanish radio interviews to reach out to Hispanic communities. In these interviews, she often speaks to voters concerned about socialism and has accused Scott of promoting “misinformation.”

“I have seen firsthand what it looks like when you have a dictators take over,” Mucarsel-Powell said. “So many people relate to that. That’s why it’ll be more difficult — very difficult — for him to be able to really get in touch with the reality of Latinos that live here in South Florida and what we’re facing.”

Stephany Matat, The Associated Press

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