Election 2018 Results; Florida Senate Race Headed For Recount
After one of the most expensive gubernatorial campaigns ever, Republican Ron DeSantis will become the 46th governor of Florida.
By Paul Scicchitano, Patch Staff | | Updated
TALLAHASSEE, FL — Republican former Congressman Ron DeSantis and Florida Gov. Rick Scott claimed victories Tuesday to keep Florida red as the two appeared to squeak past Democrat opponents to win the governor’s mansion and the longtime Senate seat held by Bill Nelson. But Nelson said Wednesday that the race is headed to a recount based on the razor thin margin separating him from the Republican.
“We are proceeding to a recount,” Nelson said in a brief statement on Wednesday.
Patch reached out to the Florida Department of State’s Office but a spokesperson did not immediately confirm whether the race was headed to a recount.
Unofficial results as of Wednesday morning showed Nelson narrowly trailing GOP candidate Rick Scott by a margin of 4,081,179 to 4,050,940, a difference of 30,239 votes.
“That’s less than a one-half percentage point difference,” the Nelson campaign said. “State law requires a recount when candidates are with one-half point.”
The first unofficial returns from Tuesday’s election are due from county canvassing boards no later than noon Saturday, Nov. 10.
“The Secretary of State will order any machine recount, if required, for federal, state or multicounty races as determined by statutory threshold of one half of one percent,” election officials have said. “The results from the machine recount constitute the second set of unofficial returns.”
Democrat Andrew Gillum conceded the governor’s race shortly before 11 p.m. to DeSantis while Scott claimed victory in the Senate race to the longtime incumbent shortly before midnight.
Nelson still had not made a concession speech as Scott delivered his victory speech in English and Spanish. A Nelson aide told reporters that the senator was planning to make a statement on Wednesday. The aide said that the result was not what the senator hoped for in his quest to win a fourth term.
The Miami Herald, Miami ABC affiliate WPLG TV, Miami NBC affiliate NBC 6 and Miami CBS affiliate CBS 4 all reported that Scott won the election despite the absence of a formal concession speech by Nelson.
Just before polls began to close in parts of Florida, Sarah Revell of the Florida Department of State told Patch that she was not aware of any major problems anywhere in the state.
“Overall the election is running smoothly,” she said. “Supervisors of elections have taken steps to quickly resolve any problems and ensure minimal potential impact to voters.”
Neris Franco of Miami said there were only two other people in her southwest Miami-Dade polling place when she breezed through on Tuesday. She heeded the advice of Florida election officials and brought a sample ballot along with her to help her get through the three-and-a-half page ballot.
“It’s like I had a cheat sheet,” she told Patch with a smile.
Voting was anything but smooth for Jenna, a nurse at Mount Sinai Medical Center, who said she brought four forms of identification with her into the polling place at Miami Beach City Hall only to be turned away at first.
“I’m going to be very disappointed if they don’t fix it,” she told Patch, adding that polling workers could not find her name anywhere.
She offered poll workers a choice of her driver’s license, social security card, U.S. passport, birth certificate and even her nurse’s identification card to no avail.
“I’m like ‘what else do you need,'” she said, holding up her hands in frustration outside her Miami Beach polling place. “I wanted my vote to count because that’s what matters.”
Updated figures released Monday afternoon by Florida election officials showed that Democrats surpassed Republicans by a total of 2,074,400 to 2,049,877 votes cast by mail or at early voting sites throughout the state. That amounted to a Democrat advantage of 24,523 votes going into Election Day.
The new figures also marked a reversal since Friday when Republicans enjoyed an advantage of 58,530 votes dependent on Floridians staying true to party lines.
But they didn’t tell the full story. Another 951,452 Florida voters cast ballots without identifying with a particular party. That meant that the marquee contests were likely to be decided by Florida’s independent voters.
In the governor’s race, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum was vying not only to become the first Democrat to hold the post in 20 years, but also to become Florida’s first black governor.
Gillum stretched his lead to 4.4 points over Trump-endorsed Ron DeSantis as voting opened on Election Day, according to political website RealClearPolitics. Gilllum got a boost in recent days by a visit from former President Barack Obama as well as a number of celebrities while DeSantis got a push from President Donald Trump.
The website rated both the Florida governor’s race and U.S. Senate race as a political “toss up” by the time the polls opened. RealClearPolitics numbers are based on a statistical average of multiple polls.
In Florida’s Senate race, RealClearPolitics gave Nelson a 3.3-point lead over Scott as the polls opened.
The ballot also included 12 proposed amendments to Florida’s constitution, which had the potential to slow voting. State election officials told voters it would be perfectly acceptable to fill out a sample ballot before going to vote and to bring that sample ballot into their polling place.
Sen. Bill Nelson said his race against Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott is headed for a recount. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images).