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Bill Nelson concedes Florida Senate race to Rick Scott

Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson on Sunday conceded the Florida Senate race to Republican Gov. Rick Scott, ending...

Posted: Nov 19, 2018 1:13 PM
Updated: Nov 19, 2018 1:13 PM

Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson on Sunday conceded the Florida Senate race to Republican Gov. Rick Scott, ending his re-election bid after the completion of a statewide recount.

Scott announced the concession in a statement, saying, "I just spoke with Senator Bill Nelson, who graciously conceded, and I thanked him for his years of public service."

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Nelson officially announced his concession in a taped statement on Sunday.

"I was not victorious in this race, but I still wish to strongly reaffirm the cause for which we fought, a public office is a public trust," he said.

Nelson added that he "by no measure feel(s) defeated" and reflected on his career in politics by saying he doesn't believe "anybody could have been as blessed."

The concession brings to conclusion a key Senate race that continued to be fought well after Election Day.

The Senate race -- along with the governor's and state's race for agriculture commissioner -- went to a machine recount a week ago, but the recount did not do nearly enough for Nelson and further formalized Scott's more than 12,000-vote lead. The contest still fell within the .25% standard for a manual recount of overvotes and undervotes, however.

Nelson conceded after the noon deadline for the manual recount, when all of Florida's 67 counties were required to submit their final vote totals to the secretary of state, meaning every vote deemed admissible by county canvassing boards and the courts had been officially counted.

The results of the recount showed Scott with a vote lead of 10,033 over incumbent Nelson. Before the completion of the manual recount, Scott had a lead of 12,603 votes.

Nelson's concession comes a day after Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum ended his campaign for governor by acknowledging that Republican Ron DeSantis had defeated him. The concession was a blow to Nelson, given the two top Democrats had figuratively stood together in calling for every legal vote cast in Florida to be counted. Gillum's bowing out was an acknowledgment that many Democrats in the state believe the fight is over.

Nelson acknowledged voting rights in his concession, an issue that was at the heart of both his and Gillum's messaging during the recount.

"We must end all forms of voter suppression, make it easier for Americans to vote and honor the idea that we are governed by the majority and not the minority," Nelson said.

Nelson's loss ends his nearly two-decade tenure in the Senate, where he most recently served as the ranking member on the Senate Commerce Committee and previously served as the chair of the Senate Aging Committee.

Nelson has been a fixture in Florida politics for more than four decades, serving as a member of the Florida House of Representatives for six years in the 1970s before vaulting to the US House of Representatives in 1979, where he served for 12 years.

Nelson faced an onslaught of spending in a race that likely topped $100 million just for ads on TV, according to data from CMAG.

And he was a top target for President Donald Trump, who considers Florida one of his home states because of Mar-a-Lago, the private club he has owned since 1985. Trump made a pair of last-minute trips to Florida to help Scott, rallying with the Republican governor and DeSantis in Fort Myers and then Pensacola during the final week of the campaign.

Scott, who is independently wealthy, raised an eye-popping $68 million this cycle, burying Nelson's $27 million.

But the Democratic outside money came in for Nelson after the primary, with Senate Majority PAC investing nearly $17 million, Priorities USA backing him with just over $8 million and Majority Forward spending another $5 million on Nelson's behalf.

Guns and the environment took an outsized role in this race. Both Scott and Nelson pointed fingers at each other over toxic algae blooms impacting the state's waterways, hoping to woo a group of single-issue environmental voters in the state. And guns have played a large role in the state after the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, left 17 people dead.

But some of Nelson's most potent ads came in linking Scott to the President, attacks that put the governor on the defensive.

One Spanish-language ad for Nelson shows Scott shaking Trump's hand. Rick Scott and Donald Trump are "muy buenos amigos," the ad says -- very good friends.

The attacks seemingly worked, because Scott had to respond by distancing himself from the President.

"When I don't agree with what President Trump does or says, I've said it," Scott said in an ad. "My only commitment is with you."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 488170

Reported Deaths: 6602
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1012851589
Ramsey43273808
Dakota36543394
Anoka33430390
Washington22183261
Stearns18786202
St. Louis14866265
Scott13381107
Wright12580116
Olmsted1184890
Sherburne877174
Carver783241
Clay694587
Rice672291
Blue Earth599635
Kandiyohi580674
Crow Wing522782
Chisago501045
Otter Tail485570
Benton449290
Winona420049
Mower410031
Douglas393768
Goodhue388069
Nobles387147
Polk344663
McLeod340550
Beltrami338751
Morrison326247
Itasca314246
Becker313942
Lyon313844
Isanti308256
Steele303011
Carlton300249
Freeborn285824
Pine282616
Nicollet261541
Todd249230
Brown247237
Le Sueur237420
Mille Lacs229047
Cass221024
Waseca210117
Meeker208134
Martin190629
Wabasha18713
Roseau180917
Hubbard160741
Houston158114
Dodge15384
Renville151640
Redwood147127
Fillmore13908
Pennington137716
Chippewa136835
Cottonwood135920
Wadena131320
Faribault124517
Aitkin119233
Watonwan11798
Sibley117610
Rock116114
Kanabec108119
Pipestone101824
Yellow Medicine97717
Murray9538
Jackson94210
Swift87818
Pope8095
Marshall78415
Stevens7468
Lake74218
Clearwater71914
Lac qui Parle68616
Wilkin67711
Koochiching62111
Big Stone5163
Lincoln5122
Grant4918
Norman4788
Unassigned44768
Mahnomen4437
Kittson40921
Red Lake3615
Traverse3105
Lake of the Woods2221
Cook1180

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 336947

Reported Deaths: 5491
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk51993559
Linn19497317
Scott17149212
Black Hawk14956293
Woodbury13828214
Johnson1314875
Dubuque12444195
Dallas1021893
Pottawattamie9877146
Story963545
Warren514076
Clinton502184
Cerro Gordo500683
Webster495588
Sioux479869
Marshall464273
Des Moines427961
Muscatine425693
Buena Vista412637
Wapello4042110
Jasper387267
Plymouth368578
Lee354453
Marion341171
Jones285055
Henry279837
Bremer270255
Carroll266649
Crawford253535
Boone244030
Benton240854
Washington239247
Mahaska215746
Jackson209939
Dickinson204140
Tama202865
Kossuth198655
Delaware186140
Clay184425
Winneshiek183228
Fayette179235
Page177919
Buchanan177829
Wright174231
Hamilton173842
Cedar172723
Hardin169839
Harrison167670
Clayton160154
Butler159231
Mills148420
Floyd148141
Poweshiek148030
Cherokee146236
Lyon145541
Allamakee144148
Madison143018
Iowa140323
Hancock138030
Grundy132230
Winnebago130531
Calhoun129411
Cass129251
Jefferson128634
Appanoose123347
Louisa122444
Mitchell120540
Chickasaw119915
Union119131
Sac118718
Shelby117433
Emmet115440
Humboldt113725
Guthrie109628
Franklin109219
Palo Alto101321
Howard99522
Montgomery96936
Clarke95020
Keokuk92529
Monroe89828
Adair81529
Ida81532
Pocahontas80919
Davis76523
Monona76427
Greene73110
Lucas72121
Osceola68315
Worth6678
Unassigned6590
Taylor64112
Decatur5699
Fremont5599
Van Buren53718
Ringgold50620
Audubon4769
Wayne47121
Adams3184
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