Florida voters have not even chosen their nominees for a pivotal Senate contest yet, but the race between Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican Gov. Rick Scott is already the most expensive of the 2018 midterms.
The bitter general election essentially started when Scott declared his candidacy in April. It will formally begin after Tuesday, when Democratic and Republican primary voters are expected to overwhelmingly choose Nelson and Scott, respectively. (Update: NBC News projected both Nelson and Scott to win Tuesday night.)
The candidates and outside organizations supporting them have already spent heavily in Florida, where Republicans have one of their best opportunities to pick up a Senate seat this year. The campaigns of Nelson and Scott, plus independent groups trying to influence the race, have already shelled out more than $50 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
It is currently the most expensive midterm contest in the country, when outside spending and campaign expenditures are added up, ahead of the highly competitive Missouri Senate race between vulnerable incumbent Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill and Missouri's Republican attorney general, Josh Hawley.
The spending underscores how important the Florida race is in the fight for control of the Senate. If Scott wins, he gives a major boost to GOP efforts to expand the party's 51-49 seat majority in the chamber. The party balance in the Senate has proved critical on numerous tight votes during the Trump administration, including now as Republicans push to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, the president's pick to replace retired Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.