Barely a month ago, Republican Rick Scott held a clear lead in the race to become Florida’s next US senator. Now a tidal wave of toxic algae threatens to engulf the campaign of the outgoing state governor, whom critics have dubbed Red Tide Rick.
Wildlife officials confirmed on Thursday that the same deadly algae bloom that overran Florida’s south-west coastline this summer, killing dolphins, fish, manatees and turtles and devastating the area’s tourism industry, had washed ashore on several Atlantic coast beaches.
The arrival in the busy waters off Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties of the Karenia brevis organism that causes red tide marks a significant escalation of a naturally occurring phenomenon that many believe has been worsened by Scott’s environmental policies.
His detractors, including the incumbent Democratic senator Bill Nelson, have pounced on Scott for years of rolling back environmental protections and slashing funding for Florida’s water management agencies by $700m. They say the devastating scale and spread of this year’s disaster is a direct result of Scott’s lax attitude to polluters.
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