TIME

The Florida Project

Republican Rick Scott is trying to win a key Senate race by wooing Latinos
Scott greets voters on June 14 during a campaign stop at Chico’s Restaurant in Hialeah, Fla.

RICK SCOTT ARRIVED IN A SWELTERING WAREHOUSE on Orlando’s east side and began thanking the crowd in Spanish. “Gracias por su apoyo,” the Republican Senate hopeful told voters and employees of this flooring business founded 20 years ago by Puerto Rican immigrants. “Es mi oportunidad para conocer a mis amigos.” Thank you for your support. It’s my chance to meet my friends.

The message was clear in any language. Scott, Florida’s two-term governor, is battling Democrat Bill Nelson, a three-term incumbent, in a race that could determine control of the Senate. And both parties believe the outcome may come down to which candidate does a better job wooing Hispanic voters, who make up 25% of the state’s population and 17% of its registered voters.

If you believe national pundits, Nelson should have the advantage. Hispanic voters are routinely counted in the Democratic Party’s voting coalition, and President Donald Trump has not endeared himself to many of the nation’s 58 million Latinos by cracking down on legal and illegal immigration alike. But in a bold play, Scott is working overtime to build support among Hispanics. Two polls

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