Rick Scott is declared winner in Florida Senate race

Republican Gov. Rick Scott has officially won the Florida Senate race over Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published November 18, 2018 3:30PM (EST)

Florida Gov. Rick Scott answers a question during a news conference at the Republican Governors Association annual conference, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) (AP)
Florida Gov. Rick Scott answers a question during a news conference at the Republican Governors Association annual conference, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) (AP)

Gov. Rick Scott, the Republican candidate for United States Senate in Florida, has been declared the winner over the incumbent, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

Scott prevailed over Nelson by a margin of 10,033 votes out of 8.19 million cast throughout the state, according to Reuters. This meant that Scott's ultimate percentage of the votes cast was 50.05 percent, compared with 49.93 received by Nelson. Because Scott's Election Day lead over Nelson was also under 0.5 percent, a recount was triggered to determine whether Scott had actually won more votes or whether a recount would elect Nelson to his fourth term in the Senate. Initially Scott's lead over Nelson had amounted to 12,603 votes.

Earlier on Sunday the Scott campaign had released a statement insinuating that Nelson would reveal a character flaw about himself if he refused to concede. The statement claimed that Nelson's choice was to "be remembered as the statesman who graciously conceded after 42-years of public service ... or be remembered as the sore loser who refused to face the people he served," according to NPR.

Later on Sunday, Scott announced that Nelson had conceded in a statement in which he said, "I just spoke with Senator Bill Nelson, who graciously conceded, and I thanked him for his years of public service," according to CNN.

President Donald Trump also congratulated Scott for his victory, characteristically using Twitter as his platform for doing so.

"From day one Rick Scott never wavered. He was a great Governor and will be even a greater Senator in representing the People of Florida. Congratulations to Rick on having waged such a courageous and successful campaign!" Trump wrote on Twitter.

Nelson's concession comes one day after Andrew Gillum, the Tallahassee mayor who ran for governor of Florida on the Democratic ticket, conceded to his Republican opponent, Rep. Ron DeSantis.

"This was a hard-fought campaign. Now it’s time to bring Florida together," DeSantis wrote in a tweet that acknowledged Gillum's statement of concession.

There was considerable controversy during the recount process, with Florida Republicans like Sen. Marco Rubio claiming that it was an attempt by Democrats to steal the election. By contrast, critics claimed that Republicans were trying to discredit a legitimate electoral procedure in the event that it wound up favoring Democrats instead of the GOP.

"My very first US investigative report was published by Salon in 2000 about the theft of the vote in Florida, then still in progress," journalist Greg Palast told Salon by email last week. "2018 and the photos are nearly identical to 2000 — GOP bullies trying to stop the vote count (in 2000, a riot by GOP operatives in the Miami-Dade elections office successfully shut down the vote). In 2018, menacing crowds supporting the GOP are chanting 'Stop the Count!' the exact phrase the GOP chanted in 2000. And in 2018, Democratic demonstrators are chanting, 'Count all the votes! Count all the votes' - the exact same (failed) chant from 2000."

He added, "In 2000, Democrats were calling for all votes to be counted - no games, no disqualifying ballots for 'hanging chads' or other gimmicks. The Republicans were adamant, led by Governor Jeb Bush and his Secretary of State Katherine Harris: don’t count all votes. In the end a whopping 178,000 ballots were disqualified — and George W. Bush won Florida and the US presidency by just 537 votes."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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2018 Midterm Elections Bill Nelson Donald Trump Florida Senate Election Rick Scott