Florida’s Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson dropped a major warning on Wednesday, saying that Russian operatives have penetrated Florida’s election systems ahead of the 2018 elections.
Nelson told The Tampa Bay Times, “They have already penetrated certain counties in the state and they now have free rein to move about.”
The report notes that the Florida Democrat “said something similar a day earlier in Tallahassee but declined to elaborate.”
“That’s classified,” he said at the time.
The Times also reports that it’s not just the Democratic senator who is raising a red flag. His fellow Florida Republican senator, Marco Rubio, is also concerned about election meddling.
“Rubio, a member of the Intelligence Committee, has raised alarms and continues to express concern,” the report noted. “Like Rubio, Nelson outlined a scenario in which hackers could delete people from voter rolls.”
Of course, bipartisan concern over Russian election interference seems to die the second it reaches the White House as Donald Trump has repeatedly understated or flat out denied Russian involvement in attacks on U.S. democracy.
Russia is targeting vulnerable Democrats
What’s even more chilling about Nelson’s warning is that he is in the midst of a hotly contested re-election campaign in Florida.
According to the RealClearPolitics average, the race between Nelson and Florida Gov. Rick Scott is neck-and-neck, with the Republican leading by just over a single percentage point.
The Florida news comes two weeks after it was reported that Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, who is running for re-election in Missouri, was also targeted by Russa.
As The Daily Beast reported at the time, “The Russian intelligence agency behind the 2016 election cyberattacks targeted Sen. Claire McCaskill as she began her 2018 re-election campaign in earnest.”
McCaskill leads her GOP opponent Josh Hawley by a single percentage point in the race to keep her Senate seat in Missouri.
Keep in mind: These are just the threats we know about. It’s an open question whether more Democratic candidates in close races are facing similar attacks without even being aware of them.
These threats are doubly disturbing given the fact that, despite widespread concern within in his own party and the U.S. intelligence apparatus, Donald Trump is asleep at the wheel on this issue.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.