Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott was declared the winner of the Florida Senate race on Sunday, defeating longtime Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson. Nelson conceded the election in a YouTube video.
The victory for Scott ends a messy and controversial recount process involving the Senate and Governor’s races. Republican candidate Ron Desantis defeated Andrew Gillum in a tight race that was decided by a machine recount that concluded on Thursday.
Gillum conceded the race on Saturday and received praise from President Trump for a hard fought race.
Congratulations to Andrew Gillum on having run a really tough and competitive race for Governor of the Great State of Florida. He will be a strong Democrat warrior long into the future – a force to reckon with!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 17, 2018
The Senate race had to go to a hand recount of ballots after a machine recount still did not meet the minimum lead needed for Scott to claim victory under Florida state law. They were separated by just 0.15 percent.
The final numbers showed that Scott won the race by just over 10,000 votes. This was down from about a 12,000 vote lead he had after the machine recount.
Florida counties were given until Sunday at 12 p.m. Eastern Standard Time to submit their final numbers on the hand recount. All 67 counties met the deadline, according to the Florida State Department.
Broward County, a Democratic stronghold in south Florida, faced national criticism for it’s handling of the recount. Election Supervisor Brenda Snipes was sued by the Scott campaign for failing to provide results on time after Election Day. A federal judge sided with Scott.
On Thursday, the county failed to publish the results of the first recount on time, missing the deadline by two minutes.
Over the weekend, recounting continued in the state Agriculture Commissioners’ race. Snipes acknowledged that her office may have misplaced more than 2,000 ballots in efforts to finalize totals in the Senate race. She tried to calm down audience members by saying “the ballots are in the building.”
Over the past two weeks, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio had been especially critical of Broward County.
The same people who are quick to use the term “Voter Suppression” to describe everything from Voter ID to closing early voting sites on time, are also quick to condemn as hyperbole & baseless criticism of blatant & rampant election irregularities & violations of election laws— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) November 13, 2018
He was highly critical of Snipes and pointed out many problems and controversies Snipes has faced in recent elections, including allegations of breaking election law.
On Sunday, the non-partisan fact-checking website Politifact sided with Rubio on most of his claims.
With the win for Nelson, the Republicans currently hold a 52-47 seat advantage heading into the next congressional session.
The only seat still undecided is Mississippi’s, which is headed into a runoff that will be held on Nov. 27.