The money is pouring into Florida with less than a week to go before the midterm elections, and both major parties are sending in their biggest names to sway voters at the last minute.
Donald Trump will hold a rally in Florida on Wednesday night to boost the GOP, followed by another on Saturday night. Democrats, meanwhile, hope the president’s predecessor, Barack Obama, will energize the party’s base Friday in a state he won twice.
The late push into Florida reflects national interest from both major political parties in a state that will have a lot to say over which party controls Congress. Florida’s gubernatorial matchup between liberal Democrat Andrew Gillum and outspoken pro-Trump Republican Ron DeSantis has also snared the national spotlight and is widely a considered a referendum on the president’s political style.
Florida, long considered a critical swing state, more than lives up to the billing this year. Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s bid to unseat Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson is this year’s most expensive Senate race, as control of the chamber hangs in the balance. At least six of Florida’s big-dollar U.S. House elections are competitive, and Democrats have a chance to flip a few of the GOP-held seats as the party tries to regain the majority.
Those factors combine to create an electoral battleground where next Tuesday’s midterm results will have massive stakes for policy that will shape the lives of Florida’s more than 20 million residents and all Americans. Small donors, national groups and Scott himself have recognized the importance of the races, injecting a stream of cash into the state in the midterms’ final days.
At least one key House race appears deadlocked, while one party seems to have a small edge in five other competitive contests. Even in several battlegrounds leaning toward Republicans, the late flow of campaign cash has favored Democrats. Last-minute donors hope to give the party a boost as it threatens to win back House control from Republicans.
In the neck-and-neck Senate race, outside Democratic groups have flooded the Sunshine State with cash, spending nearly $12 million, mostly on attack ads against Scott. They have tried to compensate for Scott’s massive fundraising advantage over Nelson. The governor and former businessman has poured more than $50 million of his own money into his bid for a Senate seat.
In the House battle, Florida’s toss-up 26th District has drawn an influx of recent cash. Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who has cast himself as a centrist, is trying to defend a South Florida district that Hillary Clinton won in 2016 amid a challenge from Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. She outraised the GOP representative by more than $100,000 from Oct. 1 to Oct. 17, although Curbelo has taken in about $1 million more throughout the campaign.
In another toss-up, the 15th District, Democrat Kristen Carlson took in about $400,000 from Oct. 1 to Oct. 17, compared with roughly $150,000 for Republican Ross Spano. They are vying to succeed retiring Republican Rep. Dennis Ross in the district east of Tampa.
The competitive Miami-area 27th District race has also seen a stream of cash in the midterms’ final days as the parties push to succeed retiring GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Democrats saw the district, which Clinton won by more than 20 percentage points, as one of their best pickup opportunities.
But Democratic former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala has faced challenges in the district against the Republican candidate, popular Cuban-American former news anchor Maria Elvira Salazar.
Shalala’s campaign took in more than $700,000 from Oct. 1 to Oct. 17, versus about $350,000 for Salazar’s campaign.