Attorney Keith Gross, a Florida Republican who has described himself as a “very wealthy businessman, worth millions,” on Tuesday announced that he’d wage a primary challenge against Sen. Rick Scott. It remains to be seen, though, how much Gross is able or willing to self-fund for what, despite Scott’s horrible relationship with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, will be an uphill battle against an incumbent who deployed $64 million of his own money during his 2018 race.
Gross did not directly mention the senator in his announcement video, opting instead to portray himself as a D.C. outsider. However, Florida Politics notes the challenger appeared to be taking a not-very-subtle shot at the $1.7 billion Medicare fraud fine leveled at Scott’s former healthcare company when Gross called himself “someone that isn’t getting rich by riding fraud and corruption.” Gross added, “I’m not running to exploit votes for my own greedy agenda. I’ve already made my way, and I didn’t have to defraud anyone to do it.”
Plenty of Scott’s Republican colleagues may not be sorry if Gross pulls off an upset against the man who was the subject of a recent Time article titled, “The Least Popular Man in Washington.” Scott, who led the NRSC during what turned out to be a dispiriting cycle for the party, spent last year feuding with McConnell before waging a failed leadership challenge against the Kentuckian. The still-minority leader himself seems to be in absolutely no hurry to make peace now with Scott, whom an unnamed McConnell ally described to Time with just two words: “Ass clown.”
In February, McConnell generated headlines when he castigated Scott's proposal to sunset all federal legislation, including Medicare and Social Security, as "just a bad idea." McConnell predicted, "I think it will be a challenge for him to deal with this in his own re-election in Florida, a state with more elderly people than any state in America." Gross himself wrote around that time, “Rick Scott is untrustworthy and I’m not surprised that he is trying to sunset Social Security because this is exactly what you should expect from someone with his history.”
Still, no one has released any polling yet to suggest that Sunshine State Republicans are looking to fire Scott. Democrats would also love it if an ugly GOP contest gave them an opening in a longtime swing state that’s lurched hard to the right in recent years, but no notable names have stepped up yet.