E&E NEWS: Green issues may help decide Fla. Senate race

E&E News: Written by Nick Bowlin. January 12, 2018.

Why did Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke excuse Florida from the department's bid to expand offshore drilling?

Was it, as he claimed, respect for "local voice"? Political machinations, as Democrats accuse? In electoral terms, the impetus matters little.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott's (R) prominence in Zinke's decision gives him an instant campaign tool if he decides to challenge Sen. Bill Nelson (D) this fall, as many observers expect (E&E Daily, Sept. 26, 2017).

The race could easily be the most expensive midterm contest. It may well decide the majority party in the chamber after this year.

"Anything anybody does in an election year is deemed a political maneuver," said Susan MacManus, a politics and government professor at the University of South Florida and director of the annual Sunshine State Survey, a broad annual poll of residents.

"But there's no question Floridians do not want oil drilling, and that extends to Republicans and Democrats.

"For Floridians who didn't want [drilling], it's probably welcome whether it was political or not," she said.

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