Scott sees ‘52-plus’ GOP Senate seats, says watch New Hampshire

NRSC chairman won't say if he'll pursue majority leader post

Florida Sen. Rick Scott, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, introduces Georgia candidate Herschel Walker at a rally in Athens, Ga., on Saturday.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Florida Sen. Rick Scott, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, introduces Georgia candidate Herschel Walker at a rally in Athens, Ga., on Saturday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Posted November 7, 2022 at 9:32am

ATHENS, Ga. — The man in charge of electing more Republican senators says to watch what happens in New Hampshire for the first sign of how election night will go.

The race pits first-term Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan against retired Army Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc, the Republican nominee Democrats were hoping to face.

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., said that if “Don Bolduc beats Maggie Hassan, that’s the precursor to what’s going to happen across the country.”

Scott, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has been out on the campaign trail alongside GOP candidates in key races across the country.

Voters in the Granite State tend to vote on machines on Election Day rather than through the mail, so the returns could come in more quickly than in states that must count thousands of paper ballots. 

The New Hampshire Senate race has tightened, according to recent polls. Hassan, who won her first term six years ago by 1,017 votes out of more than 739,000 cast, has held a significant cash advantage over Bolduc, who won a competitive Republican primary in September. But the NRSC started spending money there last month after initially pulling back, and other outside groups have also sought to close the gap. Inside Elections rates the race as Tilt Democratic.

New Hampshire’s voters have bucked national trends in the past, such as when they elected Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in 2014, a year when Republicans won back control of the chamber.

Republicans need to hold at least 51 Senate seats in order to take control of the chamber, while a repeat of the current 50-50 tie would favor Democrats because Vice President Kamala Harris serves as the tiebreaker.

Scott, sporting his customary U.S. Navy hat, was in the home city of the University of Georgia to introduce Senate candidate Herschel Walker — a former running back who won the Heisman Trophy for the Bulldogs — to a crowd in a banquet room for whom Walker needed no introduction.

The NRSC chairman has been more bullish than many other Republicans during the cycle, continuing to invest resources in races that were not at the top of the list on the Republican path to a Senate majority.

“I still believe we’re going to have 52-plus. That’s where I believe,” Scott said Saturday. “I think if you look at the numbers, I think we can do better, way better than 52. But we’ll see. It’s all tied to voter turnout.”

‘Inferior candidates’

Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, Scott’s counterpart as chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said on MSNBC on Friday that he was “very optimistic that we’re going to be able to hold our majority” because of investments in ground operations to get out the vote and the GOP’s “incredibly damaged and inferior candidates.” He specifically cited incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia, who won an unexpired term in 2021 and is now seeking a six-year term against Walker.

“Georgia is a classic case,” Peters said. “I don’t think you can find a wider gulf between the talent as well as the passion of Raphael Warnock to fight for folks all across Georgia, versus a candidate, his opponent, who’s not ready for prime time, not ready for any time, and we believe that the voters of Georgia get that.”

But Scott said the battlefield has widened as the campaign drew to a close.

He described Colorado Republican candidate Joe O’Dea as being “barely behind” incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, and said the race between Republican Tiffany Smiley and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray is “basically tied in Washington.”

Both the Colorado and Washington races are in the Likely Democratic category, according to Inside Elections, and a victory by the Republican in either race would be a sign of a more substantial red wave.

“We have got to get the majority. The majority runs right through Georgia. We have to win this race,” Scott said as part of his introduction of Walker.

The NRSC chairman’s travels would take him to his home state of Florida on Sunday for a Miami rally headlined by former President Donald Trump in support of endorsed candidates, including Scott’s senior senator, Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

‘Whole focus is Tuesday’

Scott has said repeatedly that his current focus is on making sure the GOP gains the majority in the Senate, as he said again Sunday when asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press” about potentially running for leader.

“I’m not focused on anything except getting a majority Tuesday night. Everybody wants to ask me about a bunch of things that [are] going to happen — after Tuesday night,” Scott told NBC News. “My whole focus is Tuesday night.”

Scott’s name recognition has only increased as he has become a favorite target of President Joe Biden, who invokes the Floridian’s name frequently because of his  proposal to require Congress to vote to reauthorize all federal programs every five years.

Rick Scott, a senator from Florida, is in charge of electing Republicans in the Senate, put out a plan that places Social Security and Medicare on the chopping block every five years. Every five years,” Biden said at a political event Saturday in Joliet, Ill. “And that means, every five years, Congress is going to have to vote to cut, completely eliminate or keep it as it is.”

“I have no interest in changing the Medicare program,” Scott said Sunday on NBC. “I want to make sure we preserve the benefits of Medicare and Social Security. I dont know one Republican who wants to change that.”