Emergency management, however, is an area that Scott has used to boost his political capital. He successfully navigated the state through Hurricanes Maria and Irma during his eight years as governor, all while wearing a blue Navy hat, a nod to his military service that became part of Scott’s political brand. Hurricane Michael, which leveled parts of the Florida panhandle, pulled Scott from the campaign trail in October 2018, earning him limitless media attention in the midst of a nationally watched Senate race.
“This is gold for Rick Scott,” said Brad Coker, a pollster with Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy, at the time. “It gives him the chance to raise his profile and show he can execute under pressure. It worked for Gov. [Jeb] Bush before him. And it worked for Scott after [Hurricane] Irma.”
Of course, Scott’s perceived advantage in crisis management is only an edge if he can maintain the perception that it exists. This is where Scott’s reputation for being surgical with a political shank comes into play. The former governor has taken a few stabs at DeSantis’ performance during the response.
In the early portions of the crisis, Scott sent out daily charts without any context showing the coronavirus’ growth on a percentage basis in Florida and other states (the numbers were not good), and called the early lack of communication out of DeSantis’ administration “alarming.” Scott’s team has grown accustomed to pushing back against the implication that he is feuding with DeSantis, but the hits keep coming.