A harmful algae bloom, better known colloquially as a red or pink tide, is a discoloration of seawater caused by a bloom of marine plankton called dinoflagellates. Because of an overabundance of nutrients, these blooms consume too much oxygen, killing fish and poisoning the water in the process.
And, at least in Florida, they can destroy political careers.
Blooms occur naturally and experts believe that the red tide currently ravaging Florida was supercharged when Hurricane Irma sucked nutrients from the ocean floor and belched them onto the coastline. This, however, has not stopped Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and his challenger, Republican Gov. Rick Scott, from blaming each other.
The algae is quickly becoming political with Nelson arguing that the problem is the result of Republican mismanagement of state government and Scott replying that it is the product of federal inaction. Because algae blooms are disgusting, algae blooms make for good political visuals. The attack ads have come in waves.
Scott attacked Nelson for promising and failing to clean up the algae decades ago, arguing that algae is a federal issue:
Nelson attacked Scott for slashing state environmental budgets, arguing that, no, algae is a state issue:
And now Scott just dropped this digital ad where he slams Nelson for showing up somewhat addled to give a speech at the beginning of a Senate hearing on the crisis, then skipping out before any of the testimony:
Anyone who wants to understand what’s going on down in the Florida Senate race won’t want to ignore this political marine biology question. This is already the most expensive campaign this cycle, with Scott especially dominating the airwaves and releasing new video on a weekly basis for months already. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the candidates have dropped nearly $50 million and they have more cash in their war chests with months to go.