This year, Sen. Bill Nelson, Florida Democrat, faces his toughest challenge yet. He'll run against Gov. Rick Scott, which sent Mr. Nelson scrambling to nationalize the race. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson[1], fighting to keep his seat in November, hopes a part-time state resident will end up making the difference.

Mr. Nelson[2], a Democrat, has declared his race about one thing — “a referendum on Trump[3].”

In a plaintive plea to supporters last week, Mr. Nelson[4] begged for donations, saying that they were “falling way short” of their fundraising goals and that Democrats must pony up if they want their party to regain control of the Senate[5] and derail President Trump[6]’s agenda.

The fundraising notices aren’t surprising, given the race is expected to break spending records. But the aggressively partisan stance is an unusual one for Mr. Nelson[7], 75, who across nearly three decades in Washington has established a reputation as an amiable and generally state-focused senator.

He faces his toughest re-election challenge yet this year after Gov. Rick Scott[8], a Republican, jumped into the race — sending Mr. Nelson[9] scrambling to try to nationalize the contest.

Analysts said it could be a mistake.

“I’ve said before if the Nelson campaign thinks it can win by running strictly against Trump[10], it will lose and I’m sticking with that prediction,” said Steven Vancore, a Democratic political consultant based in Tallahassee. “If they think they’ll ride some blue wave, that there’s some magic sauce, then they might as well invest their retirement accounts in lottery tickets.”

Mr. Vancore pointed to the 2016 election in which, for the first time, more Republicans than Democrats voted in Florida. While turnout is unlikely to equal that of a presidential run, Mr. Vancore said voter registration tallies he has reviewed in the Sunshine State show a Republican advantage.

“So where’s the blue wave?” he asked....

Currently, the Real Clear Politics polling average has Mr. Nelson[11] holding a razor thin 2.2 percentage point lead, well within the margin of error.While Mr. Nelson[12] took 55 percent of the vote winning re-election in 2012, since then he has become Florida’s only statewide elected Democrat. The Republican winning streak includes, in addition to Mr. Scott[13], Mr. Trump[14] winning the state in 2016 and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio cruising to reelection on the same ballot.Mr. Scott[15], 65, won election in 2010 and re-election in 2014, both times narrowly. He is, though, regarded as having superb tactical campaigns.Experts pointed to efforts already underway to pinpoint likely Republican voters in suburban areas where turnout in gubernatorial elections is often low. Given that roughly 70 percent of Florida voters in 2016 cast their ballots early or by mail, such moves by the Scott campaign now could pay handsome dividends in November.The Scott campaign acknowledged spending at least $5 million already on television advertising, including a Spanish-language commercial,

Read more from our friends at the Washington Times