Florida Gov. Rick Scott will become the most junior member of the Senate next month after the 116th Congress is sworn in after defeating three-term Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson. But that victory won without a steep price tag.
Scott spent a record $63.6 million of his own money on his campaign to oust Nelson and turn the Florida Senate delegation all red, according to his most recent Federal Elections Commission report.
That’s more than three quarters of his entire fundraising haul for the cycle of nearly $85 million.
When he jumped into the race in April, Scott indicated that no personal check would be too large to write for his campaign.
“I’m going to do whatever I can to win this election,” he said at the time.
It’s not the first time Scott has shelled out big bucks to boost his own political campaign. The two-term Florida governor spent roughly $75 million of his own money to win election to his first term in 2010.
Scott made his fortune as the CEO of Columbia/HCA, the largest for-profit health care group in the country. At the time he led the company, since re-branded HCA, the group defrauded Medicare, Medicaid, and other government programs for millions of dollars. Scott was never charged with a crime, though he resigned amid the fallout of the Justice Department’s investigation and settlement with the corporation.
Mostly self-funded candidates do not usually meet with success on Election Day.
Of the top 10 candidates this cycle who raised the highest percentage of their campaign cash from themselves, nine lost, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Most of them didn’t get far, losing in their primaries.
The lone winner was Maryland’s David Trone, who ranked 10th on the list. He defeated state Del. Aruna Miller in the Democratic primary for Maryland’s 6th District in June, setting him up for an easy victory in the safe Democratic seat in November.
That primary made Trone the biggest self-funder in House race history, beating the previous record — set by himself in his losing 2016 primary bid for the neighboring 8th District. Trone spent nearly $16 million of his own money on his 2018 election, or nearly 97 percent of what he raised.
Congressional Hits and Misses: Oregon Christmas Trees, Hatch’s Bacon and Tributes to Bush That Made Us Smile