As the noon deadline came and passed Sunday in the hand recount of votes in the race for the U.S. Senate in Florida, the final numbers reported by local election officials from across the state confirmed what had been growing more and more obvious as the recount dragged on — Gov. Rick Scott is going to Washington.
After the hand recount, the vote totals showed Nelson picking up 2,570 votes on his Republican opponet, but still trailing Scott by 10,033 votes.
Scott received 4,099,505 votes, 50.05 percent, to Nelson’s 4,089,472, or 49.93 percent.
“I just spoke with Senator Bill Nelson, who graciously conceded, and I thanked him for his years of public service. This victory would not be possible without the hard work of so many people,” Scott said in a written statement.
“Now the campaign truly is behind us, and that’s where we need to leave it. We must do what Americans have always done: come together for the good of our state and our country,” Scott went on to say. “My focus will not be on looking backward, but on doing exactly what I ran on: Making Washington Work. I know change is never popular in Washington and that I’m just one person – but we have to start somewhere. Over the past eight years, we brought great change to Florida. Now, we have the opportunity to do even more. Let’s get to work.”
Nelson later released a video statement. (see below)
“Well, things worked out a little differently than Grace and I had hoped. But let me say, I by no measure feel defeated,” Nelson said. “And that’s because I have had the privilege of serving the people of Florida and our country for most of my life. And I don’t think anyone could have been as blessed. It has been a rewarding journey as well as a very humbling experience.
“I was not victorious in this race but I still wish to strongly re-affirm the cause for which we fought: A public office is a public trust,” Nelson added. ““And with an optimistic heart, I wish to say something else: We may have been heavily outspent in this campaign, but we were never outworked.”
In the other statewide race involved in the 12-day machine and hand recounts, Democrat Nikki Fried maintained a very slim edge over Republican Matt Caldwell, defeating Caldwell by a 6,753 vote margin—50.04% to her opponent’s 49.96%.
“This victory belongs to the people of Florida, you chose a new vision, one that reflects the priorities of the people. To everyone who didn’t vote for me, I will be your voice in Tallahassee too,” stated Fried. “I am humbled and honored to serve as Florida’s next Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services.”
The election results are scheduled to be certified and made official Tuesday morning by the state’s canvassing commission.
Scott appeared to have defeated Democratic incumbent Nelson by some 60,000 votes on election night, but as more ballots were discovered and votes were added to the totals, that lead dwindled to just under 13,000 votes or a 0.15 percent difference in the margin triggering machine and hand recounts.
“We believe that at the end of this process, Senator Nelson is going to be declared the winner,” said Marc Elias, Nelson’s attorney who successfully led other recounts across the country.
After the machine recount results were released Thursday afternoon Scott’s lead stood at 12,603, a difference that remained at 0.15 percent, falling within the 0.25 margin that requires a hand recount. But a review of ballots that contained undervotes, ballots in which a vote was not cast, and overvotes, ballots in which more than one candidate was selected, failed to produce the number of new votes for Nelson that his attorneys expected.
In the Democratic bastions of Miami-Dade and Broward counties, Nelson picked up about 500 votes in the hand recount. That was far less than what was expected and needed in order for Nelson to have any chance of overcoming Scott’s lead.
From the outset off the recount it was widely believed that Scott’s narrow lead was insurmountable. Nelson’s legal team insisted there was a path for the Democrat to overcome
But, as the recounts progressed, it became more apparent that the number of ballots and votes needed for Nelson to overtake Scott’s lead just weren’t there.