- Florida Gov. Rick Scott defeated Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson Sunday in a contentious race for the state’s Senate seat.
- Scott led Nelson by more than 10,000 votes Sunday after the recount’s noon deadline, according to the Associated Press.
- Over the course of the campaign, Scott baselessly claimed rampant voter fraud and reportedly spent more than $60 million to defeat Nelson, who served three terms after first being elected to the US Senate in 2000.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott defeated Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson Sunday in a contentious race for a Senate seat.
The Associated Press reported after the recount that Scott led the incumbent Nelson by more than 10,000 votes.
In a statement after Nelson called him to concede, Scott said he thanked the three-term senator for his years of service and called for unity across Florida.
“Now the campaign truly is behind us,” Scott said. “That’s where we need to leave it.”
Hours earlier, Scott warned Nelson in a statement to concede, saying he could either “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.”
Nelson said in a statement later that afternoon that he didn’t “feel defeated” and implored voters and citizens to “never give up this fight” for progress in protections for issues including healthcare, the environment, and civil rights.
“We may have been heavily outspent in this campaign, but we were never outworked,” Nelson said, referring to the $60 million Scott spent on the race. “We have to move beyond a politics that aims not just to defeat but to destroy; where truth is treated as disposable, where falsehoods abound, and the free press is assaulted as the ‘enemy of the people.'”
Nelson continued: “There’s been a gathering darkness in our politics in recent years. My hope today can be found in the words of John F. Kennedy, who said civility can guide us through that darkness to a safe and sane future.”
The victory comes over a week after Election Day, when Scott was expected to defeat Nelson but only led by 0.15 percentage points, triggering a hand recount.
In the recount, election officials and volunteers had to examine ballots from which tabulation machines couldn’t determine which candidate got the vote.
Scott’s win is the second hard-fought Republican victory in the state within a day after Democrat Andrew Gillum conceded in the race for Florida governor to Republican Ron DeSantis on Saturday night.
The Senate race drew national attention as Scott made headlines throughout the campaign with repeated claims that Nelson was trying to garner votes from fraudulent ballots and those cast by noncitizens.
“He is trying to commit fraud to win this election,” Scott told Fox News without offering further evidence. “Bill Nelson’s a sore loser. He’s been in politics way too long.”
No state department, including the election division Scott heads, has found any no evidence of voter fraud. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said it has not launched any investigation into election fraud. And a judge slapped down Republicans’ fraud claims, telling politicians to “ramp down the rhetoric”.
With Scott’s seat secured, Republicans have an even more comfortable majority of the US Senate.